Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
The six-strong English Construction team delivers a variety of commercial and domestic building services within an industry that is estimated to create a third of all the UK’s waste. But in 2006 this progressive firm topped the “Waste Mnimisation” category at the Master Builder of the Year Awards, for demonstrating best practice in this area.
Director David English, who set-up the business in 2002, says: “Reduction of building waste is a growing concern, so we decided to act sooner rather than later. A commitment to waste minimisation is helping us lower our environmental impact and make the business more cost effective. For example, we have seen the cost of skip hire double over the last four years. The more we can reduce and re-use materials the better.”
The business extends this environmental approach to its wider network and will only works with suppliers who agree to take back surplus supplies. “Some builders will order in 20,000 bricks and not use all of them. Any left over bricks often get thrown into a skip or just buried on site. Even if we’ve only got 20 paving slabs left over, we make sure the supplier takes them back to be re-used,” says David.
When the team recently converted an old poster and sign shop in Shrewsbury town centre into four luxury town houses, they found it was cheaper to reclaim the original bricks and clean them, rather than buy in new ones. "This meant we could retain the look of the property and cut raw material use at the same time.”
A concrete crusher is used on-site to crush down any unused concrete, which is then re-used as hardcore. Similarly, timber left over from building projects is taken away for re-use and any scrap is chopped up and used on David's log burner, helping him reduce his energy bill by £1,000.
Another new approach the business has trialled is holding toolbox training sessions on-site, involving both employees and suppliers. This allows practical advice and information regarding topics such as waste segregation or handling hazardous waste to be communicated on the ground, during a tea break or lunch hour.
Plus, an internal resource efficiency ‘champion’ ensures waste minimisation is central to all business operations, including taking responsibility for the segregation, re-use and reduction of waste.
English Construction is currently settling in to a new yard in Shrewsbury where they have even greater capacity to store and re-use building materials.
You can also search for good practice case studies on the European Resource Efficiency Knowledge Centre (EREK)
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