4. Saving Material

Develop a comprehensive material efficiency plan that outlines the types and quantities of materials required for the project. Accurate planning can prevent overordering and reduce material waste.


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  1. Construction materials VS Building materials

Materials on the construction site almost can be divided in to two part: construction materials and building materials.[3]

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  • Construction Materials

Construction materials in this text will refer to the all materials used on the construction site except building materials. In this perspective, here are examples of the types of construction materials that would be considered:

  • Site Preparation Materials:

Gravel and aggregates for creating stable surfaces

Fill dirt and soil for leveling and shaping the site

Geotextiles for erosion control and soil stabilization

  • Temporary Structures and Support Materials:

Scaffolding and formwork materials

Temporary fencing and barriers for safety and site delineation

Shoring and bracing materials for excavation and foundation work

  • Safety Equipment and Gear:

Hard hats, safety vests, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE)

Safety cones, barricades, and warning signs

  • Equipment and Machinery:

Construction vehicles (excavators, bulldozers, cranes, etc.)

Generators, compressors, and other equipment

  • Construction Tools and Supplies:

Hand tools (shovels, hammers, saws, drills, etc.)

Power tools (drills, grinders, welding equipment, etc.)

  • Site Infrastructure Materials:

Pipes and conduits for utilities (water, sewage, electrical, etc.)

Culverts and drainage systems

Temporary roads and pathways

  • Temporary Building Materials:

Temporary structures for on-site offices, storage, and worker facilities

Portable toilets and sanitation facilities

  • Site Amenities and Utilities:

Site lighting equipment

Site benches, seating, and rest areas

  • Erosion Control and Landscaping Materials:

Erosion control blankets and materials

Native vegetation for landscaping and site restoration

  • Waste Management and Recycling Materials:

Waste bins, recycling containers, and disposal materials

  • Materials for Green Construction Practices:

Materials related to green building practices, such as rainwater harvesting systems, solar panels, etc.

These construction materials contribute to the overall construction process, ensuring that the site is prepared, safe, organized, and equipped for the construction activities that will take place. They support the building process by providing the necessary infrastructure and resources for workers and equipment.

  • Building Materials

Building materials are a subset of construction materials and specifically refer to materials used in the creation of buildings and structures. They contribute to both the structural integrity and aesthetic appeal of a building. 

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Examples of building materials include:

  • Bricks: Clay-based blocks used for constructing walls, facades, and partitions.
  • Cement and Mortar: Essential for bonding and holding construction materials together.
  • Glass: Used for windows, doors, and façades to allow light and provide views.
  • Wood Products: Includes lumber, plywood, and engineered wood for framing, flooring, and finishing.
  • Roofing Materials: Tiles, shingles, and metal sheets used for protecting buildings from weather.
  • Insulation: Materials that help regulate temperature, moisture, and sound within a building.
  • Paints and Finishes: Used for decoration and protection of surfaces.
  • Flooring Materials: Includes tiles, hardwood, laminate, and other materials for indoor and outdoor flooring.
  • Plaster and Drywall: Used for interior wall and ceiling finishes.
  • Plumbing and Electrical Components: Pipes, wires, and fixtures required for plumbing and electrical systems within buildings.

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  1. Embodied material procurement and supply chain
  • Sustainable Procurement Planning Tool[4]

The Action Sustainability ISO 20400 maturity model is a framework designed to assess an organization's capabilities and maturity levels in implementing sustainable procurement practices based on the ISO 20400 standard. ISO 20400 is an international standard that provides guidelines for integrating sustainability into procurement processes. There are four Elements of Sustainable Procurement:

  • Policy and Strategy: This element assesses the organization's commitment to sustainable procurement, including the development of policies, strategies, and goals related to sustainability in procurement. It looks at whether the organization has a formal sustainability policy, clear objectives, and a strategy for achieving sustainability in procurement.
  • Organization and Governance: This element focuses on the structure and governance mechanisms in place for sustainable procurement. It examines whether roles and responsibilities are defined, whether there is dedicated leadership for sustainability in procurement, and how governance processes are integrated into the organization's overall structure.
  • Engagement: Engagement assesses how the organization interacts with suppliers, stakeholders, and the wider community regarding sustainable procurement. It looks at supplier engagement practices, collaboration with stakeholders, and the extent to which sustainability considerations are communicated and integrated into supplier relationships.
  • Processes and Tools: This element evaluates the practical implementation of sustainable procurement processes. It assesses whether sustainable procurement practices are embedded in procurement processes, including supplier selection, performance evaluation, and risk management. It also looks at the tools and systems used to support sustainable procurement efforts.
  • Sustainable Material Selection: Opt for eco-friendly and renewable materials such as recycled content, rapidly renewable resources, and certified sustainable wood products. Examples include recycled steel, bamboo, reclaimed wood, and recycled plastic, innovative materials/energy-efficient materials.
  • Local Sourcing: Source materials locally to minimize transportation-related emissions. Local procurement not only reduces carbon emissions but also supports the regional economy.
  • Collaborate with Suppliers: Work closely with suppliers to identify and source materials with minimal packaging and waste. Collaborating with sustainable suppliers can lead to more eco-friendly material options.
  • Energy-Efficient Materials: Choose materials that contribute to the energy efficiency of the building, such as high-performance insulation, low-E windows, and energy-efficient lighting fixtures. 
  • Optimize Packaging & Storage: Request suppliers to provide materials in bulk or in packaging sizes that match project needs, reducing excess packaging waste. Store materials properly to prevent damage or exposure to the elements, which can lead to waste.
  1. How to save materials
  • Prefabrication and Modular Construction: 

Utilize prefabricated components and modular construction methods, which can reduce material waste and save energy during the manufacturing process. 

  • Optimize Cutting and Sizing:

Plan material cutting and sizing carefully to minimize waste. Use computer-controlled cutting systems or precision saws to optimize the use of materials. Promote standardized processing and transportation of steel bars to minimize on-site processing work, which can result in material wastage.

  • Use Recycled and Reclaimed Materials: 

Incorporate recycled content and reclaimed materials into the construction process. Reusing materials like reclaimed wood, bricks, or metal can reduce the need for new resources.

  • Material Reuse: 

Salvage and reuse materials from previous projects or demolition. Reuse bricks, lumber, doors, and other materials whenever possible. Properly categorize and store offcuts and waste materials in a central location for efficient reuse, sorted by type. : Use various techniques like welding, tooth jointing, bonding, and inlaying to effectively repurpose remaining and offcut materials.

  • Minimizing Inventory and Material Consumption

Gradual Procurement: Arrange the procurement of construction materials in stages and batches based on project progress to keep inventory levels low, avoiding excess stocks.

Efficient Handling: Align the handling of materials with site layout requirements to minimize or prevent the need for secondary transportation. Implement a maintenance system for buildings, equipment, and systems to reduce material usage during maintenance.

  • Minimizing Waste in Temporary Infrastructure: 

Ensure that temporary roads on the construction site align with permanent ones, reducing the need for additional materials. Choose prefabricated and reusable temporary facilities to decrease waste.

  • Enhancing Turnover Material Utilization

 Advanced modulus Systems: Implement advanced modulus systems like steel, aluminum, and plastic modulus, which have longer lifespans and reduce material consumption.


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