Clean Air Day: Why the Construction Industry should care

The debate around air pollution is a lot more than hot air. It’s a worldwide public health and economic challenge that needs tackling.

The associated health problems linked to air pollution costs the UK’s economy more than an estimated £20 billion every year. Sustainability isn’t just CSR, it’s good business sense.

Taking place on 21 June, Clean Air Day (co-ordinated by Climate Action Plan) is an initiative aimed at raising awareness of the ill-effects of air pollution and educating businesses, local authorities, schools and members of the public on how everyone can do their bit to reduce their emissions.

Why should construction care?

When it comes to the air quality debate, construction is often an easy target. The Considerate Constructors Scheme found that construction sites have a considerable impact on air quality, responsible for 7.5% of nitrogen oxide emissions, 8% of large particle emissions and 14.5% of emissions of the most dangerous fine particles.

As such, regulations are becoming tougher. The government announced plans to introduce Ultra Low Emission Zones in urban areas with poor air quality, which will charge heavily polluting vehicles to enter the zones. With many lucrative construction projects located in urban areas, businesses will need to ensure they meet new emissions standards into order to continue to conduct business in urban zones. What’s more, sustainability is also an increasingly important aspect winning tenders and new business.

Sustainability is fast becoming more than just important to our environment’s longevity, but to the longevity of businesses.

As an industry, businesses working in construction and the built environment need to make sure that they are promoting their sustainability efforts through multiple channels. Not only will you be doing your part to solve the issue, it will also ensure your business’s reputation doesn’t come under unnecessary fire.

Laying cleaner foundations

The challenge for construction businesses is finding solutions that enable them to combat air pollution without compromising on productivity or profitability.

In its latest campaign, ‘Spot light on… air pollution’, the Considerate Constructors Scheme is helping the construction sector to tackle air pollution and improve its image through sharing best practice with the industry. One way it doing this is through visiting around 18,000 construction sites and offices every year to raise awareness of air pollution and by challenging the sector to really think about what they can do to positively impact local air quality.

As a content marketing agency specialising in the built environment, we’ve been warmed by the news from those construction contractors that have already taken positive steps towards improving sustainability. Canary Wharf Contractors has tackled emissions with measures that include rules on engine idling, NRMM compliance, delivery logistics, dust management, transport emissions and monitoring stations. Sir Robert McAlpine has also addressed air pollution in its Broadgate projects through air quality monitoring and NRMM compliance.

Through air quality plans, emissions monitoring, cleaner energy sources (like alternative fuels), dust management, low-emission plant machinery and staff education and training, there are plenty of actions that can be taken now that don’t require huge investment or disruption.

All change needs is a brave step in the right direction. Find support from the right people, get your staff behind you and start building a new path to a cleaner, healthier future.

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