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Environmental impact indicator system adopted by construction

Institution news

AN ENVIRONMENTAL impact evaluation system being developed by the ICE is to be adopted by the UK's construction industry efficiency body Movement for Innovation (M4i).

The ICE's Civil Engineering Environmental Quality & Assessment scheme is to be trialled this month and is scheduled for industry-wide release at the end of February next year.

It will complement environmental performance indicators (EPIs) developed for domestic, commercial and industrial buildings unveiled recently, said M4i chief executive Alan Crane.

The EPIs are intended to help designers and clients assess:

lConsumption of energy during operation (measured as CO 2emissions) l'Embodied' energy used in the manufacture of materials, transportation of materials and labour to site, and in construction itself lWater consumption per person per year lConstruction waste sent to landfill lSite biodiversity before and after construction.

Performance guidelines have been set for each category to enable clients, designers and contractors to gauge how sustainable a building is.

Crane hailed the EPIs as a major step towards improving efficiency and profitability in the construction industry.

'The rate of take up will accelerate as soon as people realise this isn't just about being green but is about increased profitability and saving cash. Consuming energy and water, and moving waste around, costs money, ' he said.

At present 30% of construction costs are linked to the disposal of waste, and 30% to 40% of all waste arising in the UK is generated by the construction industry.

Transportation of goods and people is responsible for 30% of UK energy consumption. And the costs of energy and water consumed through the operating life of standard domestic and commercial buildings far outweighs the cost of designing for lower consumption, said Crane.

However, the scale and complexity of civil engineering projects compared to buildings has made it far harder to develop environmental performance criteria for the heavy construction sector, said architect Rab Bennetts, who headed the 18 month project to draw up EPIs for M4i.

The award requires sponsors to answer over 100 questions about their projects. Subjects include environmental management, land use, effect on the visual landscape, ecology, archaeological and cultural features, surface and ground water, water consumption, energy consumption, consumption of materials, waste arisings, transport of materials and labour, noise pollution and local disruption, community relations, and 'human environment' factors.

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