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Sustainable development is the achievement of a better quality of life through the efficient use of resources. Which realise social progress while maintaining stable economic growth and caring for the environment. It has been defined in many ways by many authors. The UK government underlined its commitment to sustainable development in its 1999 publication 'A Better Quality of Life: A Strategy for Sustainable Development for the UK'.
The build environment has a major impact on our lives. Construction can effect communities and businesses and can make heavy demands on limited natural resources. When planned successfully it can also lead to positive outcomes. The government recognises this and is committed to addressing these issues in order to achieve the delivery of sustainable development in the United Kingdom.
Our sustainability strategy identifies four main aims :
Social progress, which recognises the needs of everyone.
Effective protection of the environment.
The prudent use of natural resources.
Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.
Decisions concerning the built environment can have a fundamental impact on these issues. The Government recognises that it has a duty as a major client of the construction industry to embrace sustainability through all its property and construction processes, from new developments and small scale refurbishments through to the management and operations of its estate. To deliver a construction product that encourages and supports a better quality of life, the process must take account of social, economic and environmental objectives in a balanced way.
In the construction of this nuclear power station we identified ten key actions to make this project sustainable :
Re-use existing built assets
Design for minimum waste
Aim for lean construction
Minimise energy in construction
Minimise energy in use
Do not pollute
Preserve and enhance biodiversity
Conserve water resources
Respect people and local environment
Set targets i.e. monitor and report, in order to benchmark performance
While these actions are mainly focused on the environment, they are also a useful starting point in considering the broader issues that affect the construction of this nuclear power station. All sustainability decisions involve balancing seemingly conflicting needs across what is known as 'The Three Pillars of Sustainability'. These pillars take account of the specific requirements and constraints of a particular project.
The three pillars are :
This identifies the needs of individuals and considers their well-being. In the context of construction, social sustainability is often the least considered area but it has the potential to bring the most benefits. It covers a wide range of issues from health and safety, education and training through to social inclusion and eradicating poverty.
This focuses on the importance of stable economic growth. It means working within the capacity of the natural environment, adopting measures from fair and rewarding employment through to competitiveness and trade.
The most recognised of the three pillars. This is concerned with protecting and conserving both biodiversity and the environment, by reducing waste, preventing pollution and using water - and other natural resources - as efficiently as possible.
Our approach towards achieving sustainability in this project is based on the implementation of these three pillars of sustainability. The nuclear power station is going to be a sustainable structure in all aspects.
Apart from all this the health and safety is also of utmost importance. Health and Safety concerns not only the safety and well-being of occupants in and around a power station but also the welfare of employees working within the construction industry in the process of building this nuclear power station. From the start of a project the client must ensure both the facility itself and the construction site comply with Health and Safety regulation. It's now that the base for a sustainable project is set.
In order to establish a sustainable nuclear power station we would carry out the following steps
Many products are over-packaged and add to the waste stream. Use building materials that come with minimal packaging, such as those that arrive on pallets or prefabricated parts that are constructed off site. Modern construction methods use a range of technologies that can involve pre-fabrication or off site assembly. Construction costs can be increased when non-standard products are specified. Using standard products reduces errors and simplifies design and construction processes. Facilities should be designed in ways that will facilitate deconstruction for re-use and recycling. The design should provide provision for all forms of transport
but positively discriminate in favour of walking, cycling and public transport. Water use, both indoor and outdoor, can be minimised by using water-efficient fixtures and appliances. Traditional drainage systems can increase the risk of flooding and create pollution caused by runoff. SUDS offer an alternative approach to drainage in built-up areas and help minimise these problems. The design must minimise the risk of pollution. That means incorporating measures to reduce internal and external noise and ensuring that air quality is maintained. The local climate should be assessed and the appropriate building design and materials should be used. Provision should be made for possible adaptations to counter future climate change. Good design should deliver a secure and safe environment for all. Well lit outdoor spaces help create a sense of community and safety. Care should also be taken when specifying materials or installing equipment to assess the possible impact on the health or safety of the facility's occupants or indeed those involved in the construction process.
Thus we can summarise the process (sustainable construction process) into three easy steps:
Before construction begins
Before the construction process begins the client must be satisfied that the proposals meet or exceed the original project and design brief.
Construction sites often have a negative impact on the local environment and community through noise, air, water and land pollution. The client and the integrated supply team should make provisions to minimise pollution and disruption and ensure the health and safety of local residents as well as construction site staff. However, during the construction process there are opportunities to make cost savings and reduce the environmental impact through waste recycling and recovery.
[For example: the client can cut the costs of disposal and reduce the pressure on landfill by utilising reclaimed materials and recycled aggregates.]
After construction: The Handover
The client should see the commissioning and handover of a project as an important and final phase of the construction process. As part of the handover it is essential to provide (as a minimum) the client with training, facility operations and maintenance information, health and safety files and procedures for reporting defects.