constructing a better built environment

Constructing a Better Built Environment

20th December 2022   |   Jamie Barrett   |   Reading Time: 4 minutes

Evolution5’s 5-star approach provides the underpinning values of all our business activities. As an organisation every individual believes that we can, should, and will act responsibly as we go about our business. With that in mind, how can we, and other construction professionals, contribute to a better built environment?

Construction is a fast-paced industry and, right now, offers some of the most exciting opportunities for constructing a better built environment the industry has ever seen.

Construction professionals are ethically obligated to identify ways to improve the built environment, creating exciting spaces for people to live, work and thrive. 

Technological advances and new materials and techniques allow us to create increasingly sustainable buildings, reducing carbon emissions and positively contributing to the fight against climate change. 

The Importance of Constructing a Better Built Environment

A better built environment is crucial to ensure the well-being of both individuals and societies as a whole. Urban areas are defined by their accessibility, security and amenity, which should always be considered. 

Aside from adding value to a neighbourhood, a sound built infrastructure can positively affect social behaviour, through improved air quality or a greater sense of community within urban spaces. Furthermore, a better built environment allows for cultural creativity by offering dedicated spaces for social interaction within the natural environment. 

How to Construct a Better Built Environment

Creating a better built environment allows us to use our spaces in sustainable, efficient ways. To achieve this, it is essential to consider both human needs and the finite resources of our environment. It helps to ensure the complete lifecycle of buildings are considered: from design and building materials right through to reuse or recycling at the end of their life. 

Energy efficiency also plays an important role in creating a better built environment as it lessens our impact on the planet while helping save costs. Embedding smart technologies can further reduce energy usage by optimising various building functions, such as lighting and HVAC systems. As a result, we can create sustainable environments that serve us today, but are also viable for generations to come.

The Benefits of Constructing a Better Built Environment

Working and living in a positive built environment brings many benefits, from improving physical and mental health to boosting productivity. Access to green space, for instance, has been linked to lower stress levels and improved social cohesion. 

Well-maintained infrastructure benefits businesses by reducing the costs associated with delayed deliveries or lack of availability of key services. At the same time, a pleasant urban environment often increases the attractiveness of an area both in terms of investment and tourism. On an individual level, good access to transportation encourages physical activity through walking or cycling, leading to improved overall well-being and can, in turn, contribute to lowering healthcare costs.

Why we should all care about the quality of our built environment

Most of us spend our daily lives in the built environment – the schools, homes, places of work and leisure that have collectively been constructed. So it stands to reason that our mental, social and physical well-being is deeply entwined with the quality of our built surroundings. 

Creating a better built environment goes beyond the construction, extending into how the building works, the layout, air quality and lighting levels to name just a few, all play a part in affecting us: they must be fit for purpose if we are to function optimally as individuals and communities. 

Local authorities should ensure they adhere to regulations designed to keep us safe, while developers seek to create comfortable living spaces which last well into the future – ultimately providing everyone with an enriched quality of life.

The buildings we create today are the legacy we leave for the future.

How construction professionals can make a difference for local communities

Construction professionals have an important role to play in benefiting local communities. From designing and engineering buildings that cater to community needs, to responsibly sourcing materials and working with partners and contractors on sustainable initiatives, construction professionals can bridge the local population they serve and the government or other organisations providing services. 

By developing long-term projects that focus on quality and lifetime cost-effectiveness, considering factors like energy efficiency and the use of renewable materials whenever possible, construction professionals can help create tangible improvements for local people that stand the test of time. 

To do this effectively requires skill, knowledge and a genuine desire to both serve their local population responsibly whilst also representing their clients’ interests.

Ten ways to improve the built environment

The modern built environment is a complex mixture of buildings, roads, parks and recreational spaces. In recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on sustainable and socially responsible design, ensuring that the built environment provides amenities that benefit both current and future generations. 

There are many ways in which this can be achieved, and below are eight examples of effective interventions: 

  1. Investment in public transport infrastructure.
  2. Urban planning focused on creating liveable neighbourhoods.
  3. Green spaces accessible to all communities. 
  4. Housing developments designed for low-carbon living.
  5. Increased implementation of efficiency measures such as green roofs or improved insulation throughout our cities.
  6. More effort into the design of flood defences and water management systems.
  7. Increased use of solar energy collected by photovoltaic panels to harness clean electricity supplies.
  8. More effort into improving air quality through improved waste management systems or stronger emissions regulations.

Learning from the past to deliver a better tomorrow

From tragic events such as Grenfell and the subsequent cladding remediation works that will improve fire safety to learning from the devastating health impact of dangerous materials such as asbestos, history offers a plethora of useful lessons for us, as construction professionals, to use in creating a better built environment. 

Increasingly sophisticated technology allows us to model better how buildings will work from the earliest stage, in turn enabling better and safer design from the outset.

As the Evolution5 team signs off for 2022, one thing is certain – there is enormous potential for us to leave a lasting and positive impact.