Climate Change and Construction sector

The Impacts of Construction Companies in Pakistan on Climate Change

A construction company is a business, enterprise, or similar organization created to construct various buildings, developments, properties, and other projects. 

According to the 2017 census, demand for houses has grown up to 2.4% as per the annual population growth rate. According to the Pakistan Economic Survey, the country’s construction industry accounts for 2.53% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector employs 7.61% of the employed Pakistani labor force. These statistics show the importance of construction companies for providing basic needs to the people of Pakistan through shelters and jobs. So, these companies are significant for the development of Pakistan, yet they are imposing some devastating impacts on our environment too.

The construction industry and environment or climate changes have two-way mutual repercussions. On the one hand, construction is an industry with much to contribute to the climate change dynamics, both negatively or positively, depending on the construction techniques. In contrast, on the other side, climate change impacts the construction industry itself in more than one way.

In this blog, we will discuss the impacts of construction companies in Pakistan on climate change, how our climate is imposing an impact on construction companies in Pakistan, how construction companies can modify their behavior to bring about the green revolution, how our government is dealing with impacts caused by construction companies in Pakistan on climate change.

So, we start with the impact of construction companies in Pakistan on climate change to understand how our environment is being tortured by the actions of different industries, including construction, manufacturing, etc.

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Impacts of Construction Companies in Pakistan on Climate Change

The construction sector is believed to account for more particulate air pollution, water pollution, and noise complaints than any other industry. Research conducted by Bimhow shows that “The construction sector contributes to 23% of air pollution, 50% of climatic change, 40% of drinking water pollution, and 50% of landfill wastes.” So, it shows a direct connection between the various hazardous activities of construction companies in Pakistan and environmental deterioration.

In this blog section, we will have a look at how construction companies are linked with the emission of greenhouse gasses, deforestation, habitat destruction, wastewater generation, and energy-intensive construction practices.

Greenhouse gas emissions in construction

As environmental concerns have taken center stage, therefore every industry must address its carbon footprint. In this subsection of the blog, we will shed light on how construction companies are responsible for high carbon footprints in the form of greenhouse gasses emission.

Before going into the details of how construction companies in Pakistan are responsible for greenhouse emissions, firstly, we will explore the concept of greenhouse emissions and how it is linked with environmental change.

Greenhouse emission and environmental change

Greenhouse gasses are gasses such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), which are typically present in our environment and trap the heat energy coming from the sun, thereby keeping the earth warm. But in recent decades, the concentration of these gasses in our atmosphere has increased due to the modern technology explosion, excessive urbanization, deforestation, etc. As a result, more than the usual amount of GHG is trapping more sunlight leading to an average increase in the planet’s temperature and climate shift.

The impacts of global warming in Pakistan

The seriousness of the issue can be considered by going through statistical facts given by the Asian Developmental Bank of Pakistan’s recent research targeting climate risk country profiles.

According to their findings, an increase in temperature in Pakistan is biased toward winter and post-monsoon months, with southern regions like Sindh, Punjab, and Baluchistan to top among the afflicted parts. These regions experience winter warming of approximately about 0.91°C–1.12°C. And Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north experiences winter warming of about 0.52°C.

Besides winter warming, there has been a substantial increase in heat waves, especially in Sindh during the summers. Moreover, the rise in annual maximum and minimum temperatures is causing pressure on human health, livelihoods, and ecosystems. Temperature increases are more likely to affect urban dwellers and outdoor laborers, leading to increased heat-related sickness and death.

Uncertain changes to Pakistan’s rainfall are leading to an increase in the incidence of drought and flooding conditions. It has been estimated that around 5 million people will be affected by flooding by 2035–2044 and around 1 million annually by coastal flooding by 2070–2100. It is suggested that agricultural yield declines in many essential food and cash crops, including cotton, wheat, sugarcane, maize, and rice.

So, this statistical account tells us how serious the issue of global warming is and how it will affect the whole nation if left untreated. So, now, we have a basic understanding of global warming and how it impacts Pakistan as a nation and a country. Moving on further, we will discuss construction companies’ role in global warming in Pakistan.

The role of construction companies in Pakistan in GHG emissions

Construction activities have adverse effects on the environment in the form of greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) are greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change and global warming. The construction companies in Pakistan are responsible for the emission of these gasses through the following activities: 

  • The burning of fossil fuels.
  • Energy consumption in the form of various activities, like machinery operation, lighting, and heating.
  • Transportation from the delivery of raw materials to the transportation of workers and equipment.
  • The extraction and manufacturing of construction materials.

Deforestation and Habitat Destruction

In recent years, Pakistan has witnessed a rapid increase in construction activities due to economic growth and urbanization. However, it is evident that everything has pros and cons, so development brings improved infrastructure and job opportunities, yet it also raises concerns about environmental impacts like deforestation and habitat destruction. In this blog section, we will discuss the significant impact of construction companies in Pakistan on these critical issues.

Deforestation in Pakistan

Forests are essential for the normal ecological life of the planet as they absorb GHG emissions, acting as a carbon sink. Forests absorb more than one-third of total CO2 from the atmosphere keeping global warming below 2°C through 2030. Unfortunately, our country’s deforestation rate is the second highest in Asia. Deforestation is converting forest land into non forest land to fulfill the societal needs of people. Deforestation is causing a negative impact in the below-mentioned ways.

  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Air and water pollution
  • Soil erosion
  • Water cycle disruption
  • Loss of medicinal resources
  • Economic impacts, social and cultural disruption
  • Increased vulnerability to natural disasters

This section of the blog clearly explains the importance of forests for the well-being of people and the environment. In the coming section, we will discuss construction companies’ role in Deforestation in Pakistan.

Impact of construction companies in Pakistan on Deforestation

One of the primary concerns associated with construction activities in Pakistan is the extensive deforestation that often accompanies construction projects. The need for land to build infrastructure and housing societies leads to the clearing of forests, resulting in the loss of vital ecosystems and wildlife. As a result, the forest area of Pakistan fell gradually from 44,695 sq. km in 2001 to 37,259 sq. km in 2020.

The connection between deforestation and climate change

As mentioned earlier, forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing and storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Deforestation not only releases stored carbon but also diminishes the capacity of the land to sequester future emissions. This reduction in carbon absorption causes climate change, leading to rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and other associated consequences.

Impact of construction companies in Pakistan on Destruction of natural habitats and biodiversity loss

Habitat destruction refers to the process by which human activities significantly alter, fragment, or destroy natural habitats. It involves habitat transformation, making it unsuitable for the organisms to survive. Habitat destruction is primarily caused by deforestation, urbanization, agriculture, mining, infrastructure development, and pollution. This process results in the loss of critical ecosystems, biodiversity and the disruption of ecological balance. Destruction of natural habitats is causing severe impacts in the following ways:

  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Species extinction
  • Disruption of ecosystem services
  • The decline in genetic diversity
  • Altered food webs
  • Decreased resilience to climate change
  • Impacts on indigenous and local communities
  • Soil degradation
  • Loss of aesthetic and recreational values

Pakistan has a unique ecosystem, including forests, wetlands, and coastal areas, each supporting unique wildlife and contributing to the country’s natural heritage. However, construction projects encroach upon these habitats, disturbing the delicate balance of nature.

Energy consumption and efficiency

In recent years, the construction industry in Pakistan has experienced significant growth and development. However, while this progress brings numerous economic benefits, it also comes with specific challenges, particularly concerning intensive energy consumption.

This blog section will discuss intensive energy consumption practices, their impacts on climate change, and the importance of energy-efficient construction techniques.

Energy-intensive construction practices in Pakistan

Energy consumption in the construction industry is of significant importance because of its direct link with the depletion of natural resources and carbon emissions.

Impacts of energy consumption on climate change

Energy-intensive construction processes, such as the operation of heavy machinery, manufacturing of construction materials, and transportation of goods, contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

The construction sector’s high energy demand leads to the depletion of natural resources. Like many other developing countries, Pakistan heavily relies on non-renewable energy resources to meet its construction-related energy needs. This overreliance intensifies the environmental consequences associated with resource extraction and combustion.

The burning of fuels releases air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM). These pollutants not only contribute to climate change but also have detrimental effects on air quality, human health, and ecosystems. Construction sites’ machinery, vehicles, and material production processes are significant sources of these pollutants.

Importance of energy-efficient construction techniques

 Companies must adopt energy-efficient practices to reduce carbon footprints. Energy-efficient practices include:

  • Investment in modern equipment and machinery that consume less energy
  • Utilization of energy-efficient building materials
  • Optimization of energy management systems

Waste generation and management

In Pakistan, construction companies play a crucial role in shaping the nation’s infrastructure. However, their activities generate vast amounts of waste materials, including concrete, bricks, wood, metals, plastics, and more. Unfortunately, this waste’s improper management and disposal have severe environmental consequences.

In this blog section, we will bring into the limelight the significance of waste management and its potential solutions for construction companies in Pakistan.

Impact of construction waste on the environment

When construction waste is improperly disposed of, it often ends up in landfills. When incinerated, it releases harmful pollutants into the air and toxins into the soil and water bodies. Additionally, the extraction and processing of raw materials required for construction contribute to the depletion of natural resources.

Importance of construction waste management in Pakistan

Construction companies in Pakistan must adopt sustainable practices and prioritize waste management strategies to address the issue of construction waste and its impact on climate change. The below-mentioned text contains roles performed by construction companies in Pakistan for sustainable waste management:

  • Promoting Waste Reduction and Reuse: Construction companies can minimize waste generation by incorporating efficient design practices that focus on reducing material usage. Moreover, reusing construction materials should be encouraged to limit the demand for new resources.
  • Implementing Recycling Programs: Setting up recycling facilities can reduce the amount of waste material disposed of in landfills. Recycling construction waste materials, such as concrete, asphalt, and metals, not only conserves resources but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing new materials.

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Impacts of Climate on Construction Companies in Pakistan

In the rapidly evolving world of construction, one of the factors that significantly affect construction companies in Pakistan is the climate. With a diverse geography and varying climatic conditions, Pakistan imposes unique challenges and opportunities for construction businesses.

In this blog, we will analyze the impact of climate on construction companies in Pakistan and discuss strategies to overcome the associated hurdles.

Pakistan’s climate:

Pakistan experiences a wide range of climatic conditions due to its geographical location, which consists of the coastal areas along the Arabian Sea, the arid regions of Balochistan, the temperate climate in the northern areas, and the monsoon-influenced regions in the east.

Different climatic zones present distinct challenges; therefore, such a diverse climate demands construction companies to adapt their approaches and techniques accordingly.

Challenges faced by construction companies in Pakistan

Extreme temperature fluctuations

In some regions, Pakistan witnesses summers with temperatures exceeding 45°C (113°F), while winters can bring freezing temperatures, especially in the northern areas. These extreme temperature fluctuations pose significant challenges to construction activities, impacting labor productivity and material performance.

Monsoon season and heavy rainfall

Monsoon season in Pakistan, extending from June to September brings heavy rainfall, which can adversely affect construction projects. Excessive rainwater can lead to flooding, erosion, and delays in project timelines. Additionally, high humidity during this period can impact the curing process of concrete and the performance of other building materials.

Earthquakes and seismic activities

Pakistan falls in a seismically active zone, making it susceptible to earthquakes. Therefore, construction companies must implement appropriate structural design and engineering practices to ensure the safety and resilience of buildings, particularly in areas prone to seismic activities.

Dust storms and sand erosion

The arid regions of Pakistan often face severe dust storms and sand erosion, posing challenges to construction sites. These weather phenomena can hamper visibility and affect worker health and safety. Implementing suitable protective measures is vital to deal with these risks.

Strategies for overcoming climate-related challenges

Enhanced design and engineering

Construction companies should collaborate with architects and engineers to incorporate climate-responsive design features. Incorporating climate-responsive design includes optimizing insulation, ventilation, and shading systems to regulate indoor temperatures and designing structures to withstand seismic activities.

Material selection and testing

Thorough research and testing of construction materials are crucial to ensure their performance in Pakistan’s diverse climatic conditions. Companies must choose materials that can withstand extreme temperatures, resist water damage, and provide long-term durability.

Robust project planning

Effective project planning is essential to deal with climate-related challenges and allocate resources accordingly. In addition, construction firms should consider seasonal variations, such as avoiding major construction activities during the monsoon season or planning for additional time and resources to counter potential delays.

Training and skill development

Providing specialized training to construction workers and staff regarding climate-related challenges can significantly enhance their ability to adapt and respond. Training programs should focus on safety measures, the proper use of equipment, and best practices for working in different weather conditions.

Government Policies and Regulations Regarding Construction Companies in Pakistan

The Government of Pakistan has taken significant steps towards promoting sustainable construction practices in recent years. Recognizing the urgent need to adopt environmentally friendly approaches, the government has launched several initiatives to promote sustainable development in the construction sector.

This section of the blog briefly discusses the efforts undertaken by the Government of Pakistan to promote sustainable construction and combat climate change.

Overview of government initiatives promoting sustainable construction

National climate change policy

The Government of Pakistan has imposed the National Climate Change Policy, highlighting the importance of sustainable construction practices.

  • The policy emphasizes the integration of climate change considerations into the planning and design of infrastructure projects.
  • It encourages using renewable energy sources, energy-efficient building materials, and environmentally conscious construction techniques.

Green building certification

The government has introduced green building certification programs. The aims of the program are

  • The adoption of eco-friendly practices
  • Acknowledgment of buildings that meet stringent sustainability standards.

Research and development

The government has recognized the importance of research and development in sustainable construction practices. The main aim of the R&D initiative includes

  • Developing innovative technologies, materials, and construction methods that minimize environmental impacts.

Collaborations between academia, industry experts, and government institutions have led to the emergence of novel solutions for sustainable construction in Pakistan.

Incentives and tax rebates

To promote sustainable construction, the government has introduced incentives and tax rebates for developers and homeowners who incorporate sustainable elements into their projects.

Collaboration with international organizations

The Government of Pakistan actively collaborates with international organizations, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The aims of such collaborations include

  • Gaining insights and technical expertise in sustainable construction.
  • Knowledge sharing, capacity building, and implementing best practices worldwide.

Building codes and standards

The government has updated building codes and standards to incorporate sustainability criteria. These codes explain guidelines for energy efficiency, waste management, water conservation, and indoor air quality. The main aims of the government of Pakistan to revise these codes include

  • The alignment of new constructions with sustainable practices.
  • The retrofitting of existing buildings to enhance their energy efficiency and environmental performance.

Skill development and training

The government has initiated skill development and training programs by recognizing the need for skilled professionals in the sustainable construction sector. The main aims of the program include

  • Delivery of necessary knowledge and expertise to implement sustainable practices in construction.
  • Creating a workforce that can drive the transition towards sustainable construction across the country

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Although construction companies play an essential role in Pakistan’s infrastructural development, they have detrimental effects on the environment. Construction companies negatively impact wildlife via habitat destruction, deforestation, and climate change. The varying climate makes it difficult for organisms to adapt perfectly, causing species extinction. Besides, the environment is also impacting the building infrastructure and causing damage via seismic activities, season change, etc.

The environment is essential for the survival and growth of organisms. Therefore, to ensure the natural living process, it’s imperative to protect it. For this purpose, we have to adopt sustainable practices concerning construction companies in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s government and stakeholders impose strict construction policies to protect Pakistan from devastating effects of climate change.

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