Stuart Blofeld – A win-win for waste with digital tools

Stuart Blofeld, BREINDUSTRY INSIGHT: Stuart Blofeld, BRE Digital Tools Lead Trainer

Waste is a major area of concern for the construction industry. With the sector responsible for 41%, it is by far the biggest generator of waste in the UK, and an increasing number of contractors are taking significant steps to address this. It all but goes without saying that huge volumes of waste have a massive impact on the environment, and most in the industry are aware that we can no longer simply create waste and consume resources without considering the implications. What is less well known, however, is the high cost of waste for businesses. Studies of contractors and house builders show that when you take all factors into account such as wasted materials and the labour involved – including delivery, site management and disposal – the true cost of waste is astonishing: over £1000 per skip. Reducing waste is therefore a win-win for both the environment and the business bottom line, and following the best-practice examples being set up and down the country can only be to everyone’s advantage.

As the cost of waste can often be hidden, many companies are unaware of what they are paying, so a crucial first step is to make sure that these costs are fully visible. What you don’t measure and monitor, you can’t manage, so having an effective system for doing this is vital. That’s the theory but for many companies, the practice is a different matter. The key to encouraging contractors to properly and consistently measure and monitor waste is making the process a simple and effective – and this is where innovation and technology advancements in online reporting tools come in. These user-friendly tools can be used across a supply chain, with people able to input relevant site data using any device with Internet access. This is then analysed and measured for site impact and against industry best practice benchmarks. With all project information, waste records and other evidence stored in one secure location for instant access any time and from anywhere, companies can readily identify trends, look at their performance in action, see what can be achieved – what they can aim for – and take cost and time-saving action from the outset and throughout a project. Importantly, these sophisticated tools can also measure and report on all aspects of sustainability – something that many companies are still grappling with – including energy consumption, water use, timber and materials, and transport emissions.

In today’s business environment, construction companies have to become more efficient if they are to compete and thrive. Waste inefficiencies affect this considerably and robust collection and analysis of sustainability impact data is absolutely essential to helping the construction sector improve its performance. Digital technology provides a tremendous opportunity for achieving these improvements, with analysis that we carried out at BRE showing that an average £12,000 saving per project can be made in this way. These tools are a powerful asset to contractors and the projects they work on, and hopefully it’s only a matter of time before their merits are recognised and we see widespread adoption.

Don’t miss Stuart Blofeld at Digital Construction Week 2016 from October 26-27 at the Business Design Centre, Islington. Click here for information..