Down to earth: celebrating Earth Day


celebrate earth day colourful graphic

The need for both businesses and individuals to become more sustainable has long been a talking point, and there’s rarely a day without the topic hitting the headlines. Construction is no exception, and companies operating across the industry are facing increasing pressure to adopt more eco-friendly practices and shift towards the use of sustainable materials.

Here at Harris, we’re taking a number of steps to reduce our footprint, from switching to electric company vehicles to a tree planting scheme. This Earth Day, we’re reflecting on what we’re doing – as a business and as part of the wider construction industry – to protect the planet as we all strive to achieve Net Zero.

E – environmental ethos

Construction plays a vital role in society, including its significant contribution to the economy as well as creating safe places to live, work, learn and socialise. Some traditional construction methods have been identified as harmful to the environment, but fortunately simple steps can be taken to reduce this impact.

These steps are rooted in companies adopting a sincere environmentally-friendly ethos. Tokenistic greenwashing is not only ethically problematic but customers are also beginning to see through inflated claims of sustainability, so it’s essential that any environmental aspects of a company’s ethos are genuine.

At Harris, we’re proud to work with many clients that not only talk the talk when it comes to sustainability, but also walk the walk. From the installation of biomass boilers on site to environmentally-focused social value schemes, we’re delighted to work with clients who support our own ethos.

A – advances in technology

Technology plays an important role in ensuring companies across the construction industry can take steps to becoming more eco-friendly. Advancements such as products with increased energy efficiency, Building Information Modelling (BIM) and several modern methods of construction (MMC) all contribute to the cleaning up of construction.

An increasing number of companies across the sector are striving to achieve a cradle-to-cradle efficiency by working closely with supply chain partners to ‘close the loop’ and reduce waste. This circular approach can – and should – cover all levels of the supply chain and beyond, from the manufacturing of materials to the running costs and lifecycle of a building.

R – reduce, reuse, recycle

The ‘three Rs’ approach to sustainability – reduce, reuse and recycle – is a popular call to action for individuals, and it can be applied on a much larger scale to businesses too. This is something we strive for at Harris, and our clients have also adopted a series of innovative ways to minimise waste.

For example, Arbor Forest Products is a proud supplier of Trex composite decking – which has never felled a tree for deck boards in its 25-year history and comprises 95 per cent recycled materials – and Senior Architectural Systems creates a number of its high quality products using aluminium, which is an infinitely recyclable, natural material.

As well as carefully choosing materials that promote sustainability, our clients are taking several steps to reduce waste during the manufacturing process. M-AR’s modules can be broken down and recycled at the end of their long lifespan, plus the company’s factory-based manufacturing naturally reduces waste.

What’s more, Collard provides a waste management service which includes collecting, transporting, segregating and ultimately recycling waste.

T – tree planting

Trees play a vital role in creating a sustainable future, which is why tree planting schemes are an increasingly popular method for businesses to offset their carbon emissions. It’s a small but mighty step that businesses across the construction sector can take to protect our planet.

And why not take tree planting schemes to the next level? Our client Novus Property Solutions incorporated this into its CSR programme and several colleagues supported a Devon-based woodland charity by nurturing saplings before they were planted later in the year, as well as funding the planting of hundreds of trees. CMO Group also committed to planting 5,000 new trees with the help of over 100 volunteers.

As well as planting, there are a number of other ways for companies in the sector to protect trees. The provenance of raw materials should always be an important consideration to ensure they have been sourced sustainably; this includes only using FSC-certified timber. Reducing the amount of printing across the company is another great way to minimise impact on the trees, and more sustainable printing options are now available.

H – how can you do your bit?

Small changes really do make a big difference when it comes to sustainability, especially on a scale as big as the construction industry.

We’re always delighted to see companies throughout the sector coming together to take positive steps towards more sustainable practice. Sharing ideas and collaborating to find innovative solutions, develop new methods of construction and even design brand new materials has already had a profound impact on the industry’s sustainability credentials, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.

Harris » Down to earth: celebrating Earth Day