Construction and the Built Environment

5845 Words Nov 9th, 2007 24 Pages
Construction and the Environment

Assignment One

The year 1992 and the ‘Earth Summit ' in Rio de Janeiro marked a paradigm shift in the attitude of the governments of the world, as over 150 delegates attended and recognised the importance of ecological issues to the future of humanity. This was of great significance to the construction industry, as one of the greatest consumers, and producers, of our economic system.

‘Construction accounts for 40% of the total flow of raw materials into the global economy every year – some 3 billion cubic tons. The industry accounts for approximately 9% of Global Gross Domestic Product and in England alone provides employment for around 1.5 million people '
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According to the Environment Agency, 31% of land used for residential uses originated from farmland.

Two widely-used terms in this arena are brownfield and greenfield. Brownfield refers to sites that have previously been occupied by a permanent structure, greenfield to virgin land. A governmental target has been set for 60% of new housing to be sited on brownfield areas.

As the risk of flooding is expected to increase due to climate change, there can be a conflict between the desire to build on flood-safe areas and to utilise brownfield sites, as many of the latter are situated in areas known to be at risk from flooding. Another problem is that the greatest need for new housing is in the South-East, whereas more available brownfield land is located in the North due to the decline of heavy industry. Building on previous industrial sites has its own problems as there may be contamination in the soil itself, something that has to be assessed at the planning stage as part of the general site evaluation.

Different land uses in Britain in 2000 http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/commondata/figureimages/f1_land_use_fs_937072.gif Green Belts – Another feature, linked to the above, that must be contemplated, is the Green Belt. They are a man-made feature of the natural environment in the sense that they are areas, typically encircling large urban centres, set aside
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