Cranes in skyline

Constructing Clean Air

Today is World Environment Day, a day to raise awareness of the environmental issues. This year, we are encouraged to learn more about the air pollution around you, and how we can #BeatAirPollution.

Poor air quality within our towns and cities has been well documented over recent years, but how much the construction industry contributes to this, particularly when taking a whole life cycle approach is perhaps less well known. Air pollution is known to cause a range of illnesses including; an increased risk of lung disease, asthma attacks, Type 2 Diabetes… the list does go on. There are numerous sources of air pollution from driving and heating your home to larger scale commercial activities, such as manufacturing and construction.

What can and does the construction do to help #BeatAirPollution?


  • Specify and install energy efficient building solutions, systems and equipment reducing SO2 and NOx associated with the burning of fossil fuels during the operation of the building.
  • Travel methods for the development users must be considered as early as possible to ensure the development is designed to enable significant reductions in car-based travel.
  • Where car-based travel is required; specify electric car charging, car sharing spaces and limited car parking to encourage the use of alternative or more sustainable transport modes.
  • Sufficient ventilation in buildings to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Specification of non-toxic paints, varnishes, woods and solvents, to reduce emissions from these products throughout the lifetime of the building.


  • Construct responsibly by reducing traffic to site through efficient procurement
  • Replace generators, excavators, bulldozers, mobile cranes and loaders etc. (otherwise known as Non-Road Mobile Machinery or NRMM) with more efficient models and gain NRMM certification through the energy saving trust. There are now some companies producing electric NRMM and battery storage for generators to help reduce diesel usage on site.
  • Devise robust control measures for dust to limit its distribution both on and off site.
  • Use non-toxic paints, solvents etc. as much as possible.
  • No burning of materials on site.
  • Testing the new buildings indoor environments to ensure levels of formaldehyde and VOCs are met.

Handover and Occupancy

  • Commission building systems, to ensure that they are working and being used correctly to minimise any detrimental impacts on both the internal and external air quality of the development.
  • Building owners and managers to be provided with robust travel management plans to ensure that car-based travel is reduced as much as possible.
  • Building Handover and User Guides to ensure that facilities managers and users are able to use the systems correctly.

The construction industry can go a long way in helping reduce air pollution, by constructing buildings to help reduce air pollution and minimise impact of construction activities. In essence, the industry has a large role to play to help construct clean air for our future generations.

Written by Maxine Goodey, Senior Consultant