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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 have the largest single share in global resource use and pollution 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 account for 15 to 40% of all wastes going to landfill (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.

Thus the construction industry has a significant opportunity and responsibility to help tackle these sustainability issues. There have been frameworks and assessment tools that have been adopted as standard practice for construction projects. These include the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) IS rating tool and the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating tools. Some state government and market sectors have also developed their own bespoke sustainability benchmarks and tools, such as the Transport for New South Wales’ Sustainable Design Guidelines, and the Victorian Governments VicRoad’s INVEST tool.