The Use Of Regional Materials In Building Design: How Your Company Can Make A Difference

Guest Author | August 27th, 2020

Author: Jane Swanson, Freelance Writer

Estimates based on the predicted increase in international trade over the next 30 years suggest that emissions from ships could increase by 250% by 2050. At a time when most governments agree that we need to take steps to minimise environmental damage, this is a worrying forecast, and it highlights the importance of reducing the travel miles of the goods we use as much as possible. This extends to the building industry, where nearly all components — from metals to wood, glass and concrete — can be sourced locally, boosting your company’s green credentials and minimising climate damage significantly.

From design up

Success in sourcing materials locally begins at the design level. Building and project designs should include local materials, but availability may limit the options, which is why it’s essential to consider sourcing from the very beginning. Adapting your plans according to what materials you can buy locally is easier at the design level than it is once work is underway. Including material procurement in the process also allows you to research the best materials at the best prices and consider the costs of the project as a whole. Companies who are successful in sourcing high quality local products will work with design teams to come up with a radius within which to source materials, whether that’s a country-wide radius or narrowed down further to states or cities.

The advantages of sourcing materials locally

Sourcing building materials locally gives your company some distinct advantages. Using regional materials will be a big attraction for potential clients, and being transparent about your sourcing is a great opportunity to showcase regional products. In addition to reducing your company’s carbon footprint, doing business locally supports the local economy and infrastructure, ultimately supporting the community. Capral, for example, employs over 900 people throughout Australia, providing local jobs for a skilled workforce; supporting the businesses we have within the country helps preserve the livelihood of the national community. Furthermore, as local suppliers have a stake in the community, you’re likely to find quality and craftsmanship that’s hard to match when you source materials internationally.

Be aware of limitations

The more components of a project you can source locally, the better. However, realistically, it may not be possible to use local materials for every element of the project. As you have fewer suppliers at your disposal, you may find an elevation in price competition, and the availability of some materials may be limited. Select regional materials where possible, but be aware that some components may need to come from further afield. Perhaps only 25% of the project’s concrete requirements can be met locally for example, but if 100% of its aluminium or wood can be sourced locally, your project is already more sustainable that it would be with a fully international sourcing plan.

An increasing number of clients are interested in the sustainability of the buildings they invest in, and this stands companies who use local products in their designs in good stead. As well as giving you the competitive edge as a green contractor, sourcing regional materials allows you to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and support the local economy. There has never been a more urgent time to buy locally, and the building sector is in a prime place to make a real difference.