Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Construction: materials and fittings

Construction materials and fixtures

When designing building works, or refurbishment of buildings or premises you should:

Source materials locally

This will reduce the impact of transporting materials for long distances, and will benefit local businesses and the local economy.

Use recycled materials in place of virgin material

Re-using materials avoids all the environmental impacts of new manufacture. Recycled materials can replace virgin materials without any problems, but have the added benefit of being less expensive.

You can search for surplus materials in your area, including bricks, concrete, aggregate, glass, paint pallets, pipes, slates, tiles, soil and wood.

NIBusinessInfo: Incorporating recycled materials into construction projects

Resource Efficient Scotland: Construction Material Exchange & Preventing Waste in Construction

Recycled materials are often sold locally on sites like Gumtree.

Incorporate materials with high recycled content.

Many materials and components are now manufactured using recycled content. Try to go for recycled products made from renewable resources. These include concrete that uses fly ash aggregate (PFA), carpets made from recycled plastic bottles, insulation made from recycled paper and paints that contain post-consumer returns.

NI BusinessInfo: Incorporating recycled content in construction projects

WRAP: Delivering higher recycled content in construction projects

Resource Efficient Scotland: Construction sustainable procurement guide

Choose materials that are low in embodied energy

Products that are produced using less energy include timber, lime mortar (lower embodied energy than cement), slate, stone, and a variety of unfired earth materials such as cob and rammed earth.

The building research establishment (BRE) has produced a guide that rates the amount of energy used to produce each material.

BRE 'green guide' to the environmental impacts of building materials

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