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How scaffolding companies and other construction professionals can become more environmentally friendly

 In recent years, the conversation surrounding the environment – and what individuals and businesses can do to help – has amplified significantly. The world is under pressure to make a change – and the time has certainly come to do so. After all, with the planet’s resources dwindling quickly and the atmosphere’s temperature on the rise, there’s no question that we all need to do our bit for the environment. 

While there’s a great deal that governing bodies and large-scale organisations can do, there’s still lots to be done on an individual level. It’s also time for businesses to reevaluate their behaviour and make sure they’re doing enough to minimise their waste output and carbon emissions significantly, as this is where great change will happen. This is especially true for those who work in the construction industry, from scaffolding companies to architects, as construction waste contributes significantly to the world’s wastage problem. 

With this in mind, we at Hi-Point Access have started to consider how scaffolding companies and contractors can become more environmentally friendly, and what other companies in the construction industry can do to help. Here we share our top tips for doing so, from subtle tweaks all the way through to larger, more significant changes.

Educate your employees 

When it comes to making any kind of change to your business, it’s always a good idea to discuss it with your employees and make sure they’re on board. Trying to make a difference by yourself isn’t likely to achieve many results, but by briefing your workforce on your goals and making sure they’re making an effort to help, you can really make an impact. This is especially true in the construction sector where employees are constantly moving from site to site and, therefore, may find themselves in situations where choosing the greenest option isn’t easy.

For instance, while in offices you can introduce new recycling bins and encourage your employees to use them, or place restrictions on how much paper is being printed in a week, monitoring the behaviour of your employees on-site can be slightly challenging. Nevertheless, by making sure that your workforce understands what you expect and are educated in the matter at hand, you’ll be able to create a united team of environmentalists!

Plan ahead 

For companies in construction, including scaffolding contractors, the key to minimising environmental impact is to plan the project in detail. By sitting down and evaluating exactly what materials will be used, how many workers will be needed on site and how many vehicles will be required to transport equipment, you can start to identify areas where your company perhaps isn’t being as eco-friendly as it could be. For instance, it may be taking your company three vehicles to transport scaffolding to a building site but, with a little additional planning, you may be able to reduce this number to two. 

Additionally, planning ahead will give you the opportunity to consider how many building materials you really need to use, and identify areas where you could minimise your waste output. Whether you’re insulating a building or constructing it from scratch, making sure you don’t overestimate how many materials you’ll need is crucial to reducing your company’s impact on the environment. After all, the last thing you want is to have to dispose of large volumes of aggregates, cement or insulation. If you do end up with an excess of building materials, consider recycling them or using them for a future project.

Utilise sustainable materials 

Whether you’re laying a new roof or building a brand new house, there’s no doubt that you’ll need large quantities of construction materials. While this is inevitable, the manufacturing of such products has an undeniable impact on the environment – and steps to lessen the number of virgin materials exploited during the process should certainly be taken. This is something that many companies in the construction industry can achieve, simply by making an active effort to opt for sustainable materials where possible. 

Encouraging clients to consider opting for sustainable materials is another great way to reduce your environmental impact and minimise how many resources your company uses. There are many great materials available for use in construction, including:

–      Bamboo

–      Wood

–      Recycled aggregates

–      Recycled plastic

–      Mycelium

–      Timbercrete

Millions of tons of concrete are disposed of every year as a result of construction projects, so finding a sustainable alternative is one of the quickest ways to make a difference.

Use lightweight scaffolding 

When it comes to working at height, scaffolding is an essential part of gaining access to properties safely and efficiently. Before it can be erected for a construction project, the scaffolding poles and accessories are transported to the site via trucks, and are then dismantled and taken off again to start the next project. Trying to limit the number of trucks it takes to transport the scaffolding platform to and from each site is a great way to reduce your company’s carbon emissions – but how can you achieve this safely? 

If it’s possible to use lightweight scaffolding for your upcoming project, then it’s certainly a good idea to do so. Due to the design of lightweight scaffolding, which is produced from aluminium, it is much less heavy than traditional types and can be transported between sites easily. Fewer journeys will need to be taken as you’ll be able to fit more scaffolding poles and accessories on each vehicle, and your company’s trucks will inevitably use less fuel when transporting lighter equipment. Of course, there are some circumstances where using lightweight scaffolding won’t be suitable, but it’s good practice to consider how different types of equipment can lessen your environmental impact.

Drive efficiently 

Following on from the previous point, making sure that your fleet is driven efficiently is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. When you work in construction, there is simply no alternative to driving – especially when you’re transporting heavy equipment such as scaffolding. Trucks and vans are imperative to companies within the construction industry, however, it’s no secret that transportation is a significant contributor to air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

There are many techniques for driving efficiently, including:

–      Try to maintain a consistent speed

–      Accelerate gently and avoid sudden jerking movements

–      Avoid braking suddenly and leave enough time to decelerate steadily

–      Limit how much weight your vehicle carries, as heavy vehicles use less fuel

–      Don’t “idle” your trucks and lorries – if you’ve stopped the vehicle, make sure you switch the engine off.

To reduce your fuel consumption and energy usage, it’s important to educate your workforce on how to drive efficiently. This may seem like a small change to make, but it’ll certainly make a difference over time. Eco-friendly driving is something that all vehicle owners are being encouraged to do, but is something that’s particularly important if you run a fleet of lorries or trucks that are transporting goods back and forth five days a week.

Be careful of disrupting wildlife 

If you’re working in construction, it’s important to make sure that you limit how much your company disrupts the local environment with regards to wildlife. For instance, if you’re putting up scaffolding in an area surrounded by trees and hedges, you should do your utmost to protect all forms of wildlife. Making sure you don’t disturb bird nests or damage any nearby vegetation is a great way to minimise your environmental impact on the local area and develop a positive business reputation. 

Keeping the physical environment in mind and taking all available steps to avoid disrupting nearby wildlife is something that all construction companies can do, especially when working near water sources, forests and so on. Making sure that all waste is collected and recycled at the end of a project, educating your employees on the importance of respecting wildlife, and trying to avoid erecting scaffolding in areas where the ground is particularly vulnerable are all essential.

Hi-Point Access: Sheffield-based contractors offering scaffold tower hire, platform lifts, indoor scaffolding and more 

At Hi-Point Access, scaffolding specialists based in Sheffield, we supply high-quality scaffolding solutions to customers across South Yorkshire and Derbyshire to assist them with a whole range of construction projects. Whether you’re in need of lightweight scaffolding, mobile scaffolding, traditional scaffolding or MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms), we at Hi-Point Access have the equipment and resources for you. We also offer a range of building installation and maintenance services, including roofing repairs and graffiti removal solutions.
For more information about our range of services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of scaffolding specialists today.

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