How can efficiency in construction projects directly impact sustainability targets for the sector? 

In response to the pressing global issue of climate change, the United Kingdom and the European Union have set a challenging yet necessary objective – to attain ‘net zero’ CO2 emissions by 2050. The construction industry, traditionally known for its substantial environmental footprint, is now in the spotlight to significantly contribute towards achieving this goal.

Under the increasing demands from government bodies, local authorities, and broader communities for more sustainable practices, there’s a clear onus on project developers and owners. The paradigm for new projects is shifting. More efficient buildings, more community and green spaces, and lower carbon emissions are just some of the criteria popping up around new projects.

Acknowledging this shift, construction Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are focusing their efforts on electrification, seeking to replace fossil fuels with greener, less polluting alternatives. Concurrently, companies are exploring technologies that promote operational efficiency, limit rework, and support informed decision-making, all with the aim of reducing their overall carbon footprint.

Richard Clement, Deputy General Manager at Smart Construction shares his take on how civil construction can evolve through technology to meet the growing demand for sustainable construction. 

What technology can be used to boost efficiency? 

The wave of construction technology that has popped up in the last decade or so gives contractors a way to save time and money while being more competitive in the eyes of sustainability-minded GCs and owners. Smart Construction’s portfolio of solutions features these different technologies and applies them to each individual project to make planning and process more efficient. 

Some of the ways contractors can use construction tech to boost efficiency include:  

  • GPS-enabled machinery: 3D Machine guidance and control help even inexperienced operators get their work done right in one go.
  • Equipment tracking and optimization: GPS tracking,  and other telematics data can help contractors monitor their equipment in real-time. This can reduce fuel consumption and unnecessary wear on vehicles and fleet, while helping them identify ways to do the same work in a faster, more efficient manner. 
  • Drones: Drones can be used for site surveying and project monitoring. The use of drones can minimize human error in design or estimation and dramatically decrease the time needed to measure quantities and make critical decisions about projects. Drones are especially valuable for large sites. Once a time consuming and inefficient task, surveying has become a quicker job for site managers to review progress and make decisions, relaying data to remote teams where required. 
  • Digital twins: 3D modeling can make planning easier and more accurate, reducing the risk of rework and wasted materials. Digital twins also streamline communication between everyone involved in a project. 

How can technology enable the construction sector to unlock sustainability gains? 

In earthwork, efficiency is sustainability. As owners and developers start focusing more and more on the sustainability of their projects, earthwork contractors can position themselves as “sustainable” partners by becoming more efficient. It doesn’t require huge investment in new electric fleets and machinery, or spending an inordinate amount of time tracking your carbon emissions. Sustainability milestones can be achieved as a by-product of becoming more efficient in daily operations.  

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