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We all know our planet has limited resources and there’s a real movement away from the take-make-waste model to growing a circular economy where waste is designed out and materials are reutilised.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that you just don’t see when you stand inside your new Fletcher Living home. We want to make sure our impact on the environment is as minimal as possible and that we design and build sustainably, enhancing communities with parks, green spaces and clear waterways.
A group for good
Fletcher Living was one of the early supporters of the Green Building Council and has since been working to minimise the impact of building on our environment in our residential construction projects. More recently, we decided that we could manage our business even more sustainably and in 2018, we formed the Sustainability Working Group. We invited staff within Fletcher Living to share their passion for the environment, people and places.
With so many skills available amongst staff within Fletcher Living, it soon became clear that we could cover a lot of ground. The Sustainability Working Group has several focus areas including carbon reduction, phasing out problematic red list materials, lowering energy and water use, and reducing waste. The group sets goals and creates project plans to achieve them. Overall, we want to create healthy homes and places and build a strong legacy for generations to come.
Waste not, want not
One of the most visible issues facing the New Zealand building industry has been one of building and demolition waste. According to Auckland Council, it is the largest source of materials going to landfill with an average new house producing 4.5 tonnes of waste with materials worth more than $31,000, if they were saved rather than sent to landfill.
Our Waste team set out to reduce the impact from Fletcher Living. But to achieve that, they first need to do some digging of their own.
You can only improve what you can measure
To create a plan to reduce waste, the team really needed to understand how waste was being produced and in what quantities. It soon became clear there was a big gap in the data – simply because the types of waste were not being recorded by the waste contractor. So, the team set out to find a waste contractor who could separate the waste and who had a passion for sustainability.
A Gorilla in our midst
After reviewing waste contractors, the team chose Green Gorilla for our Auckland-based residential construction sites. They have a 70% diversion rate - saving Auckland some 75,000 tonnes annually from going to landfill. They also shared our passion for separating the waste and recycling. Did you know that plasterboard off cuts are 100% recyclable? The gypsum gets ground up and is used for fertiliser, compost or as a cement additive. So now Green Gorilla collect all our plasterboard from every house lot in special bags and take them away be recycled. Our untreated wood offcuts are also chipped up and find their way landscapers for gardens or to farmers for animal bedding.
What’s the future?
Sustainability isn’t just about reducing waste, but it is a good start. Fletcher Living are always looking for new, smarter ways to build homes that use fewer resources and create less waste. Fletcher Building new high-tech, Clever Core factory at Wiri and is now producing key components capable of reducing onsite building times down to six-weeks. In a speed test, these components enabled us to build a duplex home at Hobsonville Point in just one day!
With the right thinking and the use of smart technology we are making progress towards our vision of sustainably built homes.