You've probably heard of green construction methods and sustainable building materials. These are just a few examples of the techniques used in sustainable construction. From 3D printing to Building Information Modelling (BIM) software, technology is playing a pivotal role in making construction processes more efficient and less wasteful.

But sustainable construction is not just about the environment. It also means better building performance and reduced lifecycle costs. Imagine a building that uses less energy, water, and other resources while generating less pollution. 

That's what’s possible with sustainable construction. 

And with the UK Government introducing their Biodiversity Net Gain requirements, building sustainability is not only in the minds of developers and landowners, but it’s again in the public’s consciousness.

We’ve written this article to reiterate why sustainable construction is important and how it benefits all.

And that’s where we’ll start.

It saves the planet

hands saving the globe

Green isn't just a colour anymore - it's a commitment to preserving our earth.

Sustainable construction is one way we do that.

By leaning on environmentally friendly materials, waste reduction, and innovative construction methods like building for disassembly, you're directly battling against climate change. By recycling construction waste and reducing the need for new resources, you save energy for transportation and limit waste dumped in landfill sites. 

It's all a cycle - the more you recycle, the more resources you save, which in turn reduces energy consumption.

More money in your pocket

Sustainable construction isn't just environmentally friendly, it's also sustainable for your wallet, too.

It may require a little bit of extra time and money initially, but the long-term savings are significant. Through the application of better design and delivery, you'll witness a drastic reduction in the operations cost over the project’s lifetime. 

It's a truth vouched for by the World Green Building Council, confirming that energy savings alone typically exceed any cost premiums linked to the design and construction.

Better lives for every community

Hill with Edinburgh in the backdrop

By building sustainable, you’ll develop a reputable image that gives you a competitive edge. It not only attracts clients, but encourages investors who want to invest in green businesses - all whilst making a difference.

In a world where more people are becoming conscious about their environmental impact, this stance surely inflates your brand image.

However, it's more than just a reputation game. Adopting sustainable construction practices can also create social and economic benefits for the local communities. You get to drive employment opportunities and contribute to creating healthier, more energy-efficient spaces.

How to build sustainably 

When trying to build sustainably, there are three main levers you can use:

  • Reducing energy use

  • Reducing waste

  • Using renewable materials

Energy Efficiency

The aim here is to create buildings that consume the least amount of energy possible.

How exactly can we achieve this? 

Thoughtful design and materials selection.

Making use of low-reflective glass or double-glazed windows are some of the many strategies that designers employ for this reason. These don't just allow natural light to flood in, reducing the need for daytime electricity, they also help maintain temperature levels. This means that buildings keep warm in colder months, and cool in the summer, reducing reliance on heating and cooling systems.

Additionally, there's a rising trend for the integration of renewable energy systems such as solar panels. These systems not only provide clean energy, they also contribute towards significant cost and carbon savings.

Waste Reduction

Construction sites generate waste - a lot of it! 

Industry measures show that 13% of the waste generated is unused material, and a whopping 40% is packaging. Construction suppliers are encouraged to accept returns and exchanges to minimise these waste levels. As a result, your buildings become less of a burden to the environment and your pocket benefits too.

Waste can also be repurposed and used elsewhere. There are plenty of exchange schemes that take construction waste, reducing our carbon footprint further. Don't forget you're required under The Site Waste Management Plans Regulations to manage your waste responsibly!

Use of Renewable Materials

Sustainable construction focuses on the use of renewable materials. It's about preferring natural, durable, and sustainable materials that have been responsibly sourced. Some construction companies are even re-engineering products to include green chemistry, reducing waste and pollution.

Sustainable Construction Techniques

National Welsh Assembly built with sustainable materials

Any technique used to sustainably build must understand the link between the built environment and the natural one. They have to find a way to use resources more efficiently whilst creating healthier, more energy-efficient spaces.

Here are 3 techniques that’ll you find every sustainable architect will use:

Passive Design

Passive design optimises your building's layout and components such as windows, walls, and floors to harness natural energy sources. 

The aim is to maximise the use of daylight, encourage cross-ventilation and effectively make use of thermal mass for heating and cooling. Reduction in artificial energy consumption then saves your pollution output and also your utilities bill.

Green Roofs

Green Roofs are another proven technique for sustainable construction. They're not only visually appealing, but they also offer insulation benefits.

A 2023 study highlighted that green roofs can save up to 60% energy annually compared to conventional roofs. They help in moderating the indoor temperature, thus reducing energy usage in heating or cooling the building. 

If you're thinking about the weight it adds to the structure, you're right. But balancing that is an excellent return on investment over time due to the insulative effect and durability of green roofs.

Water Conservation Measures

Water conservation is an indispensable part of any sustainable initiative. And in construction, you can start by choosing fixtures that are designed to use less water. Rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, and using drought-tolerant landscapes are other effective steps towards a decreased water footprint. 

Remember, every drop counts!

Challenges in Sustainable Construction


We can’t shy away from the challenges sustainable construction brings. It's not an easy switch, but recognising the hurdles helps developers devise effective ways to overcome them.

Initial Costs

You've probably heard this a countless number of times:

“Sustainable construction comes with a hefty initial price tag.”

The innovative technologies, the specialised materials, and sometimes even the expert manpower needed, all add up to a considerable sum. 

But, think of going green as an investment rather than an expense, as (we’ve already discussed) these practices can lead to significant cost savings over the life cycle of a construction project. 

For instance, BREEAM certification, a distinguishing proof of sustainability, has a positive impact on office rental prices. Also, smart design choices and the use of durable materials potentially reduce your utility bills and extend the life of your construction.

Lack of Awareness

Another massive obstacle slowing down the green construction movement is the lack of awareness and understanding. Sustainable construction techniques are still new to many. With misconceptions floating around, even willing builders might be hesitant to adopt these practices. 

Consider it your responsibility to change this. 

Dedicate time to learn about the benefits and the long-term impacts of sustainable practices. Share your knowledge with others and create a ripple effect. After all, collective actions have the power to bring about substantial change.

Limited Availability of Sustainable Materials

The scarcity of sustainable materials is also a hurdle that cannot be overlooked. 

Right now, the balance tips in favour of traditional materials, which are extensively available and often less costly. 

But here's where you need to do your bit. 

Your demand for sustainable materials will bridge this gap, encouraging manufacturers to increase supply. As demand grows, economies of scale could also come into play, making green materials more affordable.

BNG is a requirement

Sustainable development is a choice - one we actively encourage.

However, it is now mandatory for developers to deliver a biodiversity net gain of 10%. If you exhaust all avenues and cannot make this happen, you must purchase off-site units or face your planning permission being rejected.

Avoid delays and get your plan approved by the LPAs with a Biodiversity Gain Plan.

Contact us today to get started.