Environment-friendly projects are big business these days, and many companies and organisations are jumping on the bandwagon. Here is the latest set of initiatives, products and services to make your scheme green

Waste management service

Envirowise has launched a service to help construction firms cut down waste. The Firm Foundations initiative will give free advice on developing and implementing site waste management plans and will offer a range of free guides and confidential on-site assessments.

News of the scheme came as Envirowise revealed that only 18% of the construction industry regarded waste minimisation as very important. This was despite the Mori research finding that the industry produces 20% of all UK waste. The research, commissioned by Envirowise, also found that 86% of the construction industry did not see the environment as an important issue.

Martin Gibson, Envirowise’s programme director, said the scheme would help to reduce the mountains of waste in the industry. “It is clear that there are huge savings to be made in the construction sector, both financial and environmental. This is particularly relevant at the moment as the high price of oil is threatening to increase the cost of basic materials such as bricks.”

Envirowise said that up to 13 million tonnes of unused building materials were discarded every year, which equated to £1.7bn.


Eco-friendly buyers’ club

To promote the supply of sustainable products in construction, the BioRegional Development Group is launching a buyers club called One Planet Products.

OPP is a bulk-buying initiative that BioRegional says will help members get hold of eco-friendly products more cheaply and easily than through traditional channels. Members include UK private developers, contractors and housing associations.

Suppliers are expected to sell products to OPP members at a discounted rate because of the volume they will buy each year. BioRegional says an estimated 10,000 units are to be built by OPP members in the first operating year. Demand should be boosted in January when grants from the Housing Corporation will be dependent on developments meeting a “very good” EcoHomes standard rather than the current “good”.

The buying group will first be launched in London and the South-east and Eastern regions before being rolled out to other areas of the UK.


Recycled plastic initiative

The Waste & Resource Action Programme has launched an online initiative to promote the use of recycled plastic in construction. A database lists products containing recycled plastic and there is information on projects that have already specified recycled plastic products.

WRAP is also publishing a brochure, Using Recycled Plastic Products in Construction, to provide further information on the cost, performance and environmental benefits involved in the use of recycled plastic products.

WRAP is interesting in hearing from suppliers of building materials containing recycled plastic.

Waste and Resource Action Programme

Low-energy demonstration schemes

Constructing Excellence has added two low-energy schemes to its database of 420 demonstration projects. Medbourne 5 in Milton Keynes is a £5.7m development of 85 apartments and houses designed by PRP Architects for Midsummer Housing Association. The site, which was completed in the summer, achieved an EcoHomes “excellent” rating and has a solar thermal panel system in 12 of the units. All homes have condensing boilers, low-energy lighting, dual flushing toilets and water butts.

Lindas in Getebourg, Sweden, is a development of 20 terrace houses that uses low-energy systems to cut electricity consumption from the typical average of 15,000 to 8279 kW/year. Sustainable features include a solar collector that provides 50% of the energy supply and a ventilation heat recovery system.

The Swedish demonstration project is part of an initiative between Sweden and DEFRA that aims to exchange best-practice methods.

Constructing Excellence