Material Shortages and Sustainable Solutions
October 6, 2021
The material shortages in the construction industry continue to worsen and according to the Office for National Statics (ONS), in July 2021 the cost of materials rose by 20%. This caused a decline in monthly construction output by 1.6% in July compared with June, falling to £13,660 million, and follows the 1.3% monthly decline in June 2021. The situation is likely to remain a problem for 6 to 9 more months, at least till the end of 2021, as the knock-on effects from Covid and Brexit remain evident.
Timber, roof tiles and cement heads are few of the list of materials in short supply while the demand is steeply increasing. From a wider perspective, the world’s consumption of raw materials is set to nearly double by 2060 as the global economy expands and living standards rise, which will cause twice the pressure on existing demand. According to an OECD report published in 2019, there will be 167 Gigatons of raw materials usage in the construction industry in 2060. To put that into context, one gigaton equates to 10,000 fully-loaded U.S. aircraft carriers!
The current market disruption could be an opportunity to help us drive greener, cleaner, and more sustainable construction practices in the industry by forcing the use of recycled materials where possible. What further steps can be taken to mitigate the problems associated with the material shortage?
- Planning well in advance
- Working closely with the supply chain and keeping in tight communication
- Discovering cheap and environmental substitute materials. Using services such as ENVIRONMATE (free leftover building materials marketplace)
- Allowing for longer lead times
- Sourcing locally
- Using reclaimed building materials, which can also be a solution to net zero government intentions. This would also avoid over reliance on Europe.
- Use recycled materials where possible
- Meeting British testing standards
- Refurbish buildings instead of demolition where possible
Daniel Gillespie, Director at Quartz Project Services shares his thoughts on how we can come up with sustainable ideas to help solve the material shortage problem.
“ We have and must start to think earlier and differently. At Quartz, we engage this process from inception, the ‘green agenda’ starts at the first meeting and stays a constant workflow through the duration of the development, occupation and life cycle costs. We are approaching schemes differently to be on point with the shift in the market conditions and demand. “
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