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Sustainability Balance

Published in 2019 by

Type of document: Best practices, case studies

For many years, the construction industry has increasingly been concerned about environmental
impact, usually expressed as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, resource consumption, and waste generation. This industry consumes more than 40% of the world’s resources, requires 40%
of global energy, emits 30% of GHG emissions, and uses 25% of the global water supply (UNEP
2016). To reduce these problems, sustainability goals have been incorporated into the construction industry globally.

Further information

Apart from the building and construction industry, the office buildings sector has a significant impact on the environment. It should take responsibility for its energy consumption, waste generation, greenhouse gas emissions, natural resources depletion during project lifecycle from initial stage to demolition stage (Ortiz et al. 2009). Regarding the United States (USA), buildings alone consume 39% of energy use, 72% of electricity resources, emit 39% of carbon dioxide, and consume 13.6% of portable water in the year of 2008 (EIA report 2008). Similarly, in Singapore, the buildings account for 35.9% of energy consumption and 37.8% of electricity consumption (Energy Market Authority 2018). Compared with these countries in the world, Australia is in a similar situation. In this country, buildings generate about 9% of national GHG emissions (Australian Government 2015) and 30–40 of solid wastes (ABS 2016). In addition, these buildings use 21–30% of the total potable water in urban centers (Corr et al. 2008).With such significant consumption and emissions profile, the development of sustainable practices for building projects is necessary for reducing their impacts on the environment.