Contributing to the global challenge
A report issued in 2020 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that ‘urgent and unprecedented changes are needed within the next twelve years to reach the target of a maximum global warming temperature increase of 1.5 degrees’. The report maintains that this is affordable and feasible, whilst critics and professionals argue that the target lays at the most ambitious end of the Paris Agreement pledge to keep temperature change between 1.5C and 2C and are sceptical about whether the will exists to see through all its recommendations.
The UK construction Industry can make a significant impact in achieving these targets through use of new green technologies and new construction techniques. Modern methods of construction and modular off-site construction are at the forefront in terms of the positive environmental impact that can be made with new capital works and housing provision. In collaboration with our clients, Elkins’ intention is to champion environmental change in the construction industry wherever it can to ensure we assist in this global goal.
In recent years, the impact of particulate matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) have become increasingly important, particularly in relation to motor vehicles. Elkins minimises emissions by using electricity and battery powered plant and equipment wherever we can. We only ever used diesel-powered generators as a last resort and the generators are always situated away from public areas and fenced off. Our vehicle fleet has smaller capacity, fuel-efficient engines, and is regularly updated and maintained to minimise emissions. Our commitment to use locally-employed operatives and suppliers also reduces our carbon footprint and emission levels, and our employees and sub-contractors are encouraged to travel to site by public transport wherever possible.
Elkins adheres to its own rigorous environmental policy in the management of all works. We have adopted the Climate Change Mitigation Strategy 2020 and Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2010 and we are also willing to work within any client-led initiatives.
We form a monitoring strategy with our clients whereby historic construction site data is used to inform useful monitoring for PM and NOx levels on their own sites.
Elkins also aims to achieve BREEAM (British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) excellent standards on all projects wherever it is feasible.
At our head office and site offices, all paper, plastic and print cartridges are recycled, and led by the ‘Green Champions’ in our HSEQ department, we have become a largely paper-operation within the past two years.
Elkins uses a single waste removal company to ensure that we have accurate records of waste, and of the 518 tonnes of waste removed from our head office and sites last year, some 265 tonnes were recycled. This includes PVCu, timber, glass and aluminium from window renewals, bricks, blocks, copper and wood from our general site activities. We have recently partnered with EMR to recycle metal from our sites.
Site waste management procedures
These are carried out in accordance with the Site Waste Management Plan Regulations 2008. As the principal contractor we develop and implement a site waste management plan with our clients for their projects. This details the type and quantity of waste expected to be generated, how this waste will be dealt with in accordance with the waste duty of care in section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990(3) and the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991(4). It also details how materials will be handled efficiently and waste managed appropriately and identifies who is responsible for removing the material from site and how they deal with it. The plan is updated throughout each project and data collated for review by the client.
Elkins will also Adopt BREEAM Management standards on a project-by-project basis including:
In 2023, Elkins Construction began working with Positive Planet in taking the first steps towards reducing our company carbon footprint. The first stage of the process involved collecting data about our company’s and staff’s activities to measure our carbon emissions. Positive Planet analysed this data and created a tailored Carbon Reduction Plan for our business.
The plan sets carbon reduction targets for the seven-year period to 2030. We are aiming to reduce our absolute carbon emissions by at least 90% from our baseline year or achieve (and maintain) a carbon intensity metric of <1 tonne CO2e per employee, whichever comes soonest. This is in line with our commitment to reaching Net Zero emissions by 2044.