Sustainability in construction: Reducing environmental impact
We take a detailed look at what the industry can do to decrease the environmental impact both on-site and through architectural processes
The construction industry has never been considered the most planet-friendly industry for good reason. Studies have shown that construction is responsible for almost half of climate change and 40% of energy usage globally. It also contributed very heavily to landfill waste in addition to considerable air, water and noise pollution along with the destruction of natural habitats.
The effects of climate change are becoming more pronounced year and year, and the industry has finally begun to focus more on its environmental impact. The industry is implementing several on-site processes to minimize the effect of climate change on top of other methods such as green building designs during the planning process.
Limiting Fuel Usage
Across construction sites all over the world, heavy motorised machinery is heavily used to enable greater efficiency and accuracy. They can bring a plethora of benefits to the construction site and the industry as a whole, but they have a damning impact on the environment thanks to the internal combustion engines that power them, often fuelled with fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel. Fuel usage can be limited by minimising haul distances and reducing vehicle idling time if at all possible. A range of hybrid and electrical equipment continues to be introduced which can also help reduce noise pollution around a construction site in addition to the amount of CO2 emissions produced.
As explained above, the use of electric heavy machinery can be used to reduce noise in and around construction sites, but much more can be done in addition to this. Many good construction firms limit their working hours so they do not disturb the local area where businesses and houses are usually just a stone's throw away. Moreover, construction firms can and should send letters to nearby businesses and residential properties warning them of the potential noise that sites could cause and explaining the effect of noise pollution in the surrounding areas.
Properly Dispose of Waste
It’s been reported that in 2014 well over 530 tons of construction material waste was dumped in the United States, in which most went to landfill. This number is expected to be even higher now as the population continues to expand. Demolition waste makes up for 90% of this figure. Although there will always be some degree of waste coming from an industry such as construction, this can be reduced significantly by salvaging, reusing and recycling any waste materials. These can then be used for projects in the future which eliminates the need for brand new materials to be manufactured.
Utilize Reusable Technology
Reusable technology doesn’t have to be significantly expensive. Some low-cost reusable and recyclable materials include composite materials, prefabricated panels and shipping containers. All of these materials are both very good quality and can be used again and again which can help reduce the negative impact on the environment. Some of these materials can unlock further benefits. For example, prefabricated panels can save a lot of time and money on labour which makes them very efficient.
Expedite Your Project
Accelerating your construction project can bring a range of advantages for the environment. Firstly, traffic disturbance can be greatly reduced increasing a firm’s reputation thanks to lower carbon emissions and noise pollution. Ambitious completion goals should be implemented in order to stay on track.
Eco-Friendly Building Design
The design phase in any construction project is a great opportunity to set eco-friendly goals and make smart choices in order to assure a green construction process. Companies should consider choices such as natural building materials which produce less CO2 during their manufacturing process. In addition to this, renewable energy should be considered to power these buildings from passive solutions such as rainwater collection systems to renewable energy sources such as solar panels.
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Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.
Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.
The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content.
In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.
Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.
"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president.
“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.
"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.
Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.
Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.
A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.
The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.