Energy Consumption In Construction
An overview of the impact of energy consumption within the construction sector, along with possible alternatives to conquer the consequences.
Energy consumption is the one of the most worrying aspects of financial expenditure within the construction sector. . Energy consumption is directly linked to a part of a bigger picture, i.e. greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. It is therefore, of eminence to identity the overhanging root causes. The construction sector, as crucial as it is due its economic return and overall influence on a country’s GDP, can also be a contributor to some equally large complications. For instance, due to the high capacity of machinery and tools used, as well as the power required to support electricity supply for urban developments, the industry is by far known to consume nearly one-third of the world’s energy (International Energy Agency).
This begs the question, could this be a sector with an untapped opportunity to take a step back and conserve energy? Energy conservation techniques have been proven to provide many benefits to corporations inclusive of not only project initial costs but also maintenance costs that follow. As reiterated by many firms in the modern day, sustainability is a potent incorporation of any project.
One of the many problem areas in terms of energy consumption seems to be heavy machinery and the large volumes of fuel required to power it. There are however only two ways to counter it: Either use less fuel or use it efficiently. The idea behind energy conservation revolves mainly around the latter. Rather than viewing energy conservation as a reduced version of comfort, it is important to realize that it in fact promotes better quality and productivity. By making energy-efficient choices during the project life-cycle, one must view it as more of an investment than as an expense, as it is in fact, a promising road to a higher return on investment.
Think Five for the Future: Alternatives that promote Energy Efficiency for the industry
1- Equipment Matters:
Using the right equipment is essential to cut back on operating costs and unnecessary use of energy. Contractors need to ensure that the right equipment is used depending on the task at hand. For instance, equipment such as excavators and wheel loaders must carry the optimum bucket size, as buckets that tend to be too large for the equipment could end up burning more fuel than necessary. Furthermore, efficient use of fuel is also a factor to consider. Fuel tracking technology was introduced for this reason, and therefore enables builders to monitor fuel usage as well as identify any underlying issues with the equipment.
2- Reduce downtime:
Many a times, idling tends to be a leading factor for the energy consumption among heavy duty equipments. According to Constructionexec, an hour of idle time has the same impact on an engine, as driving 25 miles. Engine idling has a direct impact on fuel costs and efficiency. This can be avoided by educating equipment operators and avoiding any unplanned downtime. Moreover, an effective project plan can also help reduce idling time.
With the emergence of construction technology and smart building, robotics is playing an increasing role in the sector. Robotics has assisted the green movement in more than a number of ways. For one, robotic assistance can be utilized to preserve natural resources in the form of “sensor fish” within hydroelectricity. 3D Printing is also a widespread practice, in order to aid to the prefabricating process. The process of assembling parts of building in a manufacturing site, can help conserve energy and promote sustainability. Furthermore, it also allows for use of cleaner energy and a limited use of generators.
4- Carbon Steel Solutions:
The production of steel is a very energy-intensive process; however it still stands as an essential for construction projects. The use of high-grade lightweight steel as an alternative can reduce the quantity of steel put in use. Investing in renewable alternatives, such as renewable hydrogen which is still a ‘yet-to-be’ invention, can reduce energy consumption in volumes. Furthermore, reuse and deconstruction are also useful ways to reiterate this.
5- Waste Reduction:
The industry contributes to large amounts of wastes on a daily basis. By finding ways to recycle these wastes can be an essential part of a company’s sustainability plan. Wastes from heavy duty tasks such as excavation can be reused (as recently outlined by the Australian government), and be converted into masonry blocks. Recyclable wastes from landfill can be implemented in replacement strategies, while non-recyclable wastes can be used for waste-to-energy processes for producing liquid fuel or powering kilns.