According to the our new report ‘Emission-free Construction Sites – Definitions, boundaries and terminology’, the building and construction sector is responsible for about 39% of the world’s energy process and energy-related CO2 emissions. At the same time, the construction sector is the world’s largest consumer of raw materials, and construction of new buildings represent up to 5% of the world’s total emissions. Therefore, focus on the road towards emission-free construction sites grows.
But how do we get closer to this goal?
A unified framework for emission-free construction sites
Nordic Sustainable Construction’s new report suggests answers, a status and a unified framework for the field of emission-free construction sites. It addresses definitions of construction sites and their boundaries, problems with emission, waste and pollution stemming from construction, practical implementations, energy use and carriers, procurement and key learnings from case studies.
Highlights from report on emission-free construction sites
- The report distinguishes between emission-free and fossil-free construction, and defines emission-free construction site as “An emission-free construction site has no airborne emissions from fuel combustion within the system boundary. Energy sources such as batteries or hydrogen can be used as energy sources for machines”.
- Definition of construction site boundaries include: transport of materials, equipment, personnel and waste; construction machinery; energy; temporary works; waste treatment; and auxiliary material and waste. Here, waste of unused materials could be included to promote reuse of materials and reduction of waste.
- Preferable energy carriers for construction sites and transportation of building materials instead of fossil fuels are: batteries, hydrogen, biofuel and electrofuel. The energy efficiency of battery-powered electric machines is roughly three times greater than diesel-powered machines. In addition, the operational cost and noise pollution is lower, and batteries and fuel cells eliminate all airborne pollution.
- Besides CO2 pollution, construction emits pollution of particulate matter, noise and waterborne pollution, all of which affect public health and nature greatly.
The report was written by the Green Building Council Iceland, the Housing and Construction Authority of Iceland and the Icelandic Ministry of Infrastructure under the Nordic Sustainable Construction programme. Read the report on emission-free construction sites here.
Network of collaboration
At the event, a new network was initiated for knowledge sharing and collaboration. The network aims to help develop new methods and technologies for emission reduction, identify knowledge gaps and provide participants with opportunity to influence guidelines.
Sign up for network on emission-free construction sites here
Online excursion to construction site
As an example of a construction site working to reduce its negative impacts, you can watch this online excursion to the construction site ‘Mindet 6’, which is a part of the project Green Construction Site of The Future.
The project works to identify which green initiatives provide the best environmental impact and working conditions on construction sites. To do this, they monitor noise, wind, particles and emissions through sensors on the entire construction site and avoid blackouts by monitoring their power grid.
How is the industry reducing waste and emissions on site?
At the event, Volvo Construction Equipment presented how they strive for a fossil-free future through at least 35% electric machine sales by 2030 and striving for net-zero value chain emission by 2040. Furthermore, they focus on recycling and prolonging the life of batteries and lowering emissions from product use, as these account for the majority of the total emissions.
Lastly, Sitehub described how they reduce waste and emission on construction sites through centralised logistics, documentation, recycling, nearby storage facilities and waste data capture. In their software platform they collect data and document the construction sites’ logistics, site control, environment, work environment, waste and materials.
Did you miss the online event?
Watch or rewatch the online event, which was moderated by Holmfridur Bjarnadottir, Director of Housing and Planning at the Icelandic Ministry of Infrastructure, to hear the introduction of the report and network of collaboration and gain input from Sitehub and Volvo Construction Equipment on their work on reducing emissions and waste at construction sites. Link to recording.