The construction industry is responsible for extracting billions of tons of sand and gravel each year. These raw materials are utilized to make concrete for building residential and commercial structures. Clearly, these excavations are taking a toll on the environment. As the industry continues to strip beaches and river beds of their raw materials, we are not only witnessing the destruction of the environment, we are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and the disruption of delicate ecosystems.
In this two-part series, the Houston construction lawyers at Cotney Law will discuss this pressing issue and examine a variety of strategies for reducing raw material consumption in the construction industry. As a contractor, adopting sustainable practices is one way to show that you care about the environment and are willing to seek out workarounds to help the environment prosper, but if you want to remain compliant with all current legislation as you transition into new, green construction methods, contact a Houston construction lawyer.
Dredging Beaches and River Beds
Extracting sand from a flowing body of water is like removing the governor from a car. Sand helps limit the speed of flowing water, so removing the sand accelerates this flow to unmanageable levels. This can cause the water table to fall, which allows water to bleed into land along the river bank. When this land is populated with farms or other plots of fertilized land, it can lead to major issues such as Lake Okeechobee’s toxic runoff in Florida.
On the other hand, dredging beaches leaves beachside property vulnerable to increased damage from storms. Sand operates as a buffer between the storm and a piece of property. It helps mitigate some of the excess energy produced by storms, but when it is excavated residents are left utterly defenseless when a storm rolls into their area. These two scenarios illustrate why reducing raw material consumption is so important. If the construction industry continues to excavate sand recklessly, communities and ecosystems will be left in a state of disrepair.
The Unsustainable Demand for Sand is Growing
In a study titled “A Looming Tragedy of the Sand Commons,” Dr. Aurora Torres of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) states that the problem with our raw material consumption is that our “demand for sand is outpacing what we know about the environmental impact of extraction.” She believes that this issue is a “hidden ecological disaster,” which explains why very little is being done to reduce raw material consumption.
Why don’t we use sand from the desert? What is the best type of sand for making concrete? These questions and more will be answered in part two.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.