Construction 2025 Strategy – Overlooking Water Reuse?
Sustainability and the responsible use of resources is a vital issue for the construction industry and one that has been identified as a priority by the government. However the focus of this has been on low carbon construction and other key issues such as water reuse and efficiency on site have simply not been addressed.
An example of this is the Construction 2025 Strategy. Published in 2013, this report identifies key areas for improvement and provides specific targets to be met. This includes a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with the 1990 baseline figures and forms part of a wider target of an 80% reduction by 2050.
However, it does not address water reuse, which is an important issue for construction. For example, up to 170 litres of water is required to produce one cubic metre of concrete. In addition to this, a considerable volume of water is used to wash out concrete trucks, skips and pump lines once a pour is complete.
Without this issue being addressed by the government there is minimal pressure placed on the sector to look for ways to reduce water consumption. In the past it has been regulatory requirements that have not only fostered innovation but, in some instances, led to collaboration across the industry to solve the problem.
Without this pressure, it falls to individual companies to lead the way by pioneering new methods that will address the issue. A number of contractors and suppliers are looking at how they can reduce their environmental impact especially in relation to water efficiency. One approach that can contribute to reducing water consumption is to recycle the waste water created on site for use in the concrete production process.
The water used for concrete washout must be carefully managed due to its high alkalinity. The typical pH value of the water means that it cannot be discharged into the main drains or allowed to drain away on site. If managed efficiently, the large particles and aggregate can be filtered so that water can be returned to the concrete production plant for use in the next batch. The water can also be used for specific purposes on site, such as wet-curing of concrete structures or reused for washing out concrete skips, trucks and pump lines.
A New Approach
By adopting this new approach, contractors will not only solve the issue of dealing with a common waste product but also contribute to reducing the environmental impact of the industry as a whole. We’re fully supportive of this new wave of thinking: collaboration in the supply chain to improve productivity of the construction industry.
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