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Sustainable Construction

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Sustainability can be defined in simple terms as the ‘capacity for continuance’. It is based upon three components: economic growth, social progress and environmental protection.

Construction and infrastructure works represent a significant proportion of global resource use and pollution from emissions. The built environment is responsible for 30 to 50% of global energy consumption and equates to approximately 40% of global carbon emissions. Building waste in industrialised countries accounts for 15 to 40% of all waste streams going to landfill, or around 40% in Australia. 

Sustainable construction involves delivering buildings and structures that provide greater satisfaction; increasing well-being and value to customers and users, respecting and treating stakeholders more fairly, enhancing and better protecting the natural environment, minimising construction's impact on the consumption of energy and natural resources as well as making the construction industry more profitable and more competitive.

The construction industry therefore has a significant opportunity and responsibility to help tackle these sustainability issues. There are frameworks, standards, assessment and rating tools that have been adopted for property, construction and infrastructure works. These include the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) IS rating tool, the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating tools, the Living Future Institute Australia’s Living Building Challenge, the International WELL Building Institute’s WELL Standard, and the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) managed nationally by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, on behalf of Commonwealth, state and territory governments. Some state government and market sectors have also developed their own bespoke sustainability benchmarks and tools.