Resource efficient construction can be defined as making the best use of materials, water and energy over the lifecycle of a built asset to minimise embodied and operational carbon (WRAP). Improving resource efficiency is one of BAM Ireland’s key sustainability goals and have been collaborating with a research project in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) to help in achieving this goal.
The resource efficiency research project being undertaken by GMIT aims to develop a lessons learned resource efficiency toolkit through the benchmarking, development, implementation and testing of waste, water, carbon and energy reduction plans on construction projects in collaboration with BAM Ireland. The project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency through the Cleaner Greener Production Programme (CGPP). To date the researcher, Jan G?ttsche, has worked on five BAM case study sites in the West of Ireland over the past 21 months including the Doughiska Schools PPP, the multi-storey car park and CRF TRF building in UCHG, Tulla Secondary School and the Human Biology Building in NUI, Galway. In total, there have been 266 site visits completed across all the sites with resource efficiency audits being undertaken during each visit. This has enabled the researcher to benchmark resource efficiency practices on site and suggest a series of quick-win improvement practices.
Preliminary findings to date have shown that case study projects have produced between 48 and 79kgs of waste per m2 of floor area with a resulting cost of between €5.75 and €10.60 per m2 of floor area and a carbon emissions output of between 19.2 and 29.08 kgCO2eq per m2 of floor area depending on the size of the project.
With regards to energy usage on site, findings show that energy costs are between €8.95 and €13.16 per m2 of floor area with a resultant carbon emissions output of between 27.6 and 43.54 kgCO2eq per m2 of floor area, again depending on the size of the project.
Water usage has also been tracked with a usage of 0.2m3 per m2 being recorded on one of the case study projects.
Overall findings suggest that a contractor has the potential to save up to 0.4 per cent of the project value and increase their profitability by up to 14 per cent once the implementation of resource efficiency on site has been completed to a best practice level. The study has therefore shown that all the case study sites to date have been able to make improvements to their resource efficiency performance, reduce costs and increase profit margins.
The work has gained some very positive feedback to date with the BAM Doughiska School site, shortlisted at 2014 UK Sustainability and Resource Industry Awards from CIWM. BAM are also now using the information gathered through this research to drive sustainability initiatives on their other projects.