Construction And The Environment – Introduction

As seen in my previous articles, construction is among the major human activities that result to landmark products. The activities of construction produce items that stand on land replacing natural features or even changing them. Some of the activities change the landscape by either adding or omitting some of them. Construction also makes use of a good number of materials borrowed from the environment, whether in their natural state or in a processed form. Furthermore, the usage of the product of construction leads to the production of elements of waste which are then directed to the environment, mostly in a cleansed manner, although in most cases, this is not fully accomplished.

In all these activities, the environment is impacted in one way or the other. In many occasions, they are detrimental to the environment, with the only variable being the degree and nature of such impact. While some effects are short – term and easily overcome, others are irreversible and thus leave a permanent mark on our environment.

Being among a global concern, environmental impact reduction should be reduced, reversed and even prevented from occurring by all that are involved. This will include all stakeholders in the construction industry, as it is a potential cause of such ills to our environment. The following are just a few ways that various players in the construction industry can use to achieve environmental friendly projects:

· Prospective builders should be advised on the need and ways of building environmental friendly buildings.

· Designers should see to it that matters environment are handled with utmost care in all projects they handle.

· Statutory bodies should ensure that construction designs and methodologies adopted for any upcoming projects are in tandem with the responsibility of environmental care and sustainability.

· Occupiers should ensure that no activity that they are engaged in result to environmental jeopardy.

When all and sundry understand the need and the ways of caring for the environment, then we will be a step closer to good environmental impact management as far as construction is concerned. It is also worth noting that for such a goal to be successful, it calls for the collective responsibility by all. Otherwise, the sweat of one person will be watered down by the ignorance or omission of the other. Teaching all the stake holders on these matters will make sure that they have a clear knowledge of how to minimize the detriment that has continued to eat away our environment.

Renewable Heat Incentives and Funding

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has plans to put into motion incentives in 2011 that would help with the promotion of these types of heating devices. This is good news for those who want to use renewable heat sources, as they will be able to be given these incentives under this situation so that they can be rewarded. The questions, then, come down to where the funding will come from. Will it just come back around in some form so that the consumers will have to be paying it anyway? Are there enough funding sources available to make it a realistic goal? These are questions that need to be answered, though, fortunately, it looks as if there are a number of different ways to fund these incentives that will prove beneficial and useful both in the near future and in the long-term future.

One way in which the funding will be paid for is that the charge for electricity for those not using renewable energy sources will increase in the coming months, and this extra money will be used to help pay for the incentives. While this seems unfair in some senses, it should act as a spur to help people change over to the new sources, as they will want to be getting the incentives, rather than paying extra, which can double their savings. A lot of people will not do this anyway, and so plenty of funding will come in through them. This can be very true for big businesses, places that use a lot of electricity and will also not want to pay to replace all of their sources, as they have much more need than the standard home.

Along with this, a new levy will be put down on suppliers of fossil fuels who are giving those fuels to the public instead of the renewable heat sources. This is part of the Renewable Heat Incentive, or the RHI, and could in turn just raise the prices as described above.

Furthermore, there are many grants available to people who want to install geothermal heating measures. This can make the process more manageable at the start-up, and will help a lot when combined with the incentives. One example of this is the LCBP1, or the Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 1. This will offer people up to £2,500 to install the new heating measures. Other grants include the SCHRI and the CERT, which can be applied for in certain cases. All in all, there are many ways both to acquire funding for the installation of renewable heat sources, funding that can be increased with the RHI to make it well worth it.

Explaining The Dire State Of Farmland Birds

Birds are widely considered to be an excellent indicator of health in the local ecosystem. For a generous bird population to exist there must be sufficiently varied flora to accommodate them. Invertebrates and insects will exist in high enough numbers to sustain the birds, having their own population numbers limited in turn. With the loud communication and visible flight birds display it’s easy to judge the quality of the environment through their presence.

Therefore it’s worrying to note the drastic and pronounced decline taking place in the population levels of farmland birds, as well as the national bird population in general. There has been a loss of 44 million nesting birds since 1966, reduced from 210 million to only 166. The majority of loss came from farmland birds, with coastal birds balancing out the scales with vastly increased numbers.

Since farmland birds have been hit the hardest in the past half century, it’s worth taking a look at the reason why this happened. Immediately, changing farming techniques have played a huge part in reducing bird numbers. Though farmers aren’t targeting birds, changes they wreak on the ecosystem are reflected through them.

Since the 1970s farming has driven to become increasingly efficient and intense. Herbicides and pesticides are a necessary part of the process, allowing farmers to better specialise their land to grow particular kinds of crops, while removing factors that may prey on their valuable crops. Herbicides remove weeds as well as a wide number of wild flowers that intrude on farming land. While this is good news for farmers, necessary berries and seed birds would usually eat is being removed, leaving them with less nutrients available in the immediate environment. The Tree Sparrow in particular suffers from the removal of edible plants, and their population has declined by 93 per cent since 1970, making them one of the highest risks for conservation among UK birds today.

The reduction in wild plants contributes to a second factor, primarily caused by increased use of directed insecticides. There are far less invertebrates and insects populating farmland regions, with obvious repercussions for the birds reliant on them for food. Land previously set aside for pasturing is being re-appropriated as arable land, removing entire populations of insects and wild plants. An increasingly popular practice is to minimise hedgerows and treelines to create more space for intensive farming. Though increasing our crop yields is a must, this has drastically reduced the land available for birds to populate.

Despite the worrying effect these farming trends are having, the general consensus is they are necessary. Moving forward, finding ways to reconcile modern intensive farming techniques with avian populations is a must, and few steps are being taken to achieve this. Landowners are informed of the ways their techniques affect the local environment, but directed programmes to preserve the existing ecosystem bordering our farmlands has yet to take place.