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Construction sites raise efficiency

New data suggests the environmental performance of projects and sites is continuing to improve, despite many projects failing to complete on time.

The data, collected by Glenigan and BRE Smartwaste shows that energy use, measured by kg of CO2 per 100 sq m of floor area for all projects, has dipped to its lowest level since these KPIs were first recorded in 2003.

Median energy use per 100 sq m is now 1,970 kg of CO2, down from 2,254 kg last year and less than half the 4,414 kg recorded in 2003.

Other project data in the latest KPIs suggests the industry is showing little progress towards meeting the government’s Construction 2025 industrial strategy targets, underlined by only 40 per cent of projects being delivered on time.

However, these environmental KPIs present a much more positive message, according to BRE Smartwaste business development manager Stuart Blofeld.

Mr Blofeld said the government’s “very ambitious” aim of construction reducing its carbon emissions by 50 per cent was still a “huge ask”, but could be achievable “depending on how optimistic you want to be”.

“The KPIs match the downwards trends in energy consumption and waste that we’re seeing across a lot of the projects we monitor,” he said.

“If you’re being optimistic, you would say we’re well on target; there’s still another 10 years to go. But, there’s definitely more improvement needed.

“The Construction 2025 targets are very ambitious, but the trends within the KPIs suggest the direction is correct – we’re just not reducing environmental impacts fast enough.”

He added that projects monitored by Smartwaste saw a 20 per cent reduction in emissions in 2014, showing that the target could “well be achievable”.

For housing projects, SAP ratings, which measure the energy efficiency of new homes, have reached their second highest level on record.

The median SAP rating for new homes stood at 86 out of a possible 100 in 2015’s KPIs, up from 84.8 last year. This year’s recording is only bettered by the rating of 86.5 seen in 2012.

The amount of waste removed from site during construction – ie the absolute waste arising from a construction site that is not recycled – also showed a positive trend.

The median amount of waste removed from site per £100,000 of project value stood at 21.6 cu m in 2015’s KPIs, down from 22.6 cu m last year; again, this was the second highest rating on record.

Much like housing, this year’s result was only bettered by 2012’s recording of 19.4 cu m, and was less than half the all-time high of 47.1 cu m recorded in 2004.

Energy use during the construction phase exhibited similar patterns, reaching its second lowest level on record in this year’s KPIs.

The 2015 figures show that 199 kg of CO2 was used per £100,000 of project value – down from 214 kg last year and far below the high point of 322 kg seen in 2004.

Mr Blofeld added that reducing waste and energy usage on site could go some way to reducing costs, after the KPIs found that 56 per cent of construction was delivered on budget or better.