History was made in 2014, with the building of Australia’s first 99 percent waste free home, located in the Melbourne suburb of Melton. The project was a joint effort of the centre for design and society at RMIT and the Victorian builder Burbank.

The design strategies used for this project included sustainable variations of brick and roofing materials, along with effective waste management strategies like non-acceptance of over deliveries, packaging return to suppliers, and sand delivery via bulk bags.

This project inspired building designers to conceptualise new and innovative ways to cut down on waste—or eliminate waste materials.

Even so, in 2016, 20 megatons of waste were generated through construction and demolition activities, says the Australian National Waste Report. About 64 percent of this waste was recovered through recycling and energy recovery. Yet a full 7.1 tonne mass was transported to a landfill. This translates to mean that the processes of demolition and construction accounts for about one third of the 64 MT of waste generated, and a quarter of the 27 MT sent to landfills annually.

It is clearly time to build cleaner, and this always starts at the planning stages of every construction project. When choosing materials, for example, materials that generate low waste volumes should be selected—with preference given to materials and systems that can be created off site. Material dimensions should be formulated with respect to standard sizes, with material use planned in accordance with the concept of minimising waste generation. Moreover, all assets should be created to ensure lifelong flexibility. Also use recycled materials whenever possible.

Construction methods, by contrast, should be devised in a manner that minimises the process of the cut and fill site. Learn how to place and recycle bricks in an ecoefficient manner. Use sub-boards and planning wiring when installing electrical wiring, pulse switching and intelligent controls. And surprisingly enough, even specific purchasing methods can contribute to the saving of waste. Don’t overorder—and when you do order, buy recyclable materials that are packaged with an eye to the environment.

In general, the classic call to reduce, reuse, recycle is very applicable here. Separate waste as much as feasible, with recycling bins and waste bins set up and ready to use on site. Staff should be trained regarding waste disposal methods, and waste management procedures should be written into the contract. In short, make every worksite green!