Soft measures to reduce CO2 emissions in the construction industry

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HS2 is testing a dual-fuel platform at a site in London.

In a world increasingly aware of environmental challenges, the construction industry finds itself at a critical crossroads. As cities grow and develop, the demand for infrastructure and buildings increases, but often at the expense of the environment. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with construction have become a focus of concern because they are a major contributor to global warming. While it is true that in many Latin American countries environmental regulations may be less strict than in other regions of the world, the call to action is more urgent than ever.

Hs2 Is Testing A Dual-Fuel Platform At A Site In London.

The construction sector accounts for a large share of global CO2 emissions, with heavy machinery and construction equipment often powered by fossil fuels. Although it seems that the environmental standards are less strict compared to some countries in Europe or North America, awareness is growing and industry experts are looking for new ways to meet this challenge. Fortunately, this does not have to be a trade-off between development and sustainability, because there are mild measures that can be implemented to reduce CO2 emissions without the need for radical changes in technology. In this article, we will explore some of these promising strategies that can pave the way towards more sustainable construction in Latin America and, ultimately, the entire world.

For example in the UK

Learning from the experiences and challenges faced by other countries is important on the road to reducing CO2 emissions in the construction industry. During the seminar “Air Change Strategies and Climate Change Using Mobile Construction Machinery”, organized by Calac + at the end of September in Peru, the light was shone on the valuable lesson learned in the United Kingdom in its battle to reduce emissions from off-highway mobile equipment.

Soft Measures To Reduce Co2 Emissions In The Construction Industry Daniel Marsh, the “Center for Low Emission Construction” program at Imperial College London. (Photo: CLA)

The UK, like many industrialized countries, faces many challenges in reducing CO2 emissions from its construction machinery. Daniel Marsh, Center for Low Emission Construction program manager at Imperial College London, offers valuable insight into the challenges and strategies the UK is embarking on to address this critical issue.

The Center for Low Emission Construction focuses on raising awareness about the air quality impacts of construction and demolition; conducts scientific research to inform policy; cooperates with manufacturers of low-emission technologies; evaluates health impacts and provides guidance for industry and air quality professionals, with the goal of promoting cleaner, safer practices in the construction industry and reducing negative impacts on air quality and public health.

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Marsh emphasized that the transition to cleaner and more efficient construction machinery is not only an ethical responsibility, but also a necessity in an era of climate change. Despite the obstacles, the UK is working to implement stricter regulations and promote the adoption of cleaner technologies in the construction sector.

Their experiences can provide valuable lessons for Latin American countries facing similar challenges and looking for effective solutions to reduce CO2 emissions in their own construction industries.

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Successful steps

Faced with the challenge of reducing CO2 emissions in the construction industry, it has become necessary to look for effective solutions that do not require radical technological changes that can start with something as simple as to train the operator.

Attitudes are changing

Keltbray Excavator Operators Compete In Fuel Saving Tournament. Keltbray excavator operators compete in fuel saving tournament. (Image: Keltbray)

Changing the behavior of an operator when dealing with the workday of a machine is a measure that is easy to use and can bring great results. Construction equipment typically spends at least 30% of its useful life in idling mode, which represents a significant opportunity to effectively reduce emissions.

An example worth mentioning is the Keltbray construction company. In 2019, the company launched a fuel saving tournament in its transportation department to encourage drivers to reduce vehicle idling hours. The driver who achieves the greatest improvement in efficiency in a month receives a prize. This initiative has generated substantial fuel savings and reduced carbon emissions, as well as improved participation and commitment among Keltbray teams, exceeding everyone’s expectations.

The tournament initially lasted three months, and in the following 12-month period the company managed to save £65,000 in fuel and recorded the longest period without accidents due to its operations.

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Alternative fuel studies

Studies on alternative fuels have received attention to find solutions to reduce the use of diesel and move to more friendly options in the construction industry. These tests evaluate the potential air quality benefits of considering alternatives to diesel. However, the results showed a limited benefit to air quality compared to conventional diesel. Despite this, there is potential for carbon reduction through sustainable sourcing of these alternative fuels.

It is important to note that, in general, alternative fuels have not been proven as effective as the adoption of cleaner machinery or the modernization of existing plants in reducing carbon emissions and improving the quality of wind in the manufacturing sector.

This highlights the importance of considering a range of approaches to tackle the emissions problem in the construction industry.

Soft Measures To Reduce Co2 Emissions In The Construction Industry Test modernization of 403 kW Bauer BG30 Balfour Beatty equipment. (Image: HS2)

Retrofit

Marsh also mentioned the HS2 project, a high-speed rail project in the United Kingdom that is described as zero carbon emissions and has a symbolic achievement of successfully achieving the world’s first modernization of equipment. to build large.

The British company Eminox implemented a six-month pilot of the modernization solution of the Junttan PM20 and Bauer BG30 platforms equipped with a Stage IIIA engine that showed a significant reduction in emissions, even below the required standards of Stage V. .

This development paves the way for widespread implementation across the industry, with positive impacts on the environment, surrounding communities and workers, further strengthening HS2’s position as a flagship sustainable infrastructure project. in Europe.

Other technologies

Daniel Marsh also discusses other technologies currently available in the market. These technological innovations play an important role in finding solutions to reduce emissions in the construction industry, offering viable and effective alternatives that support efforts for a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

Among the equipment discussed in the academic is Punch’s Flybrid, a technology inspired by the high-speed world of Formula 1. It is a system designed to capture and store energy that would normally be wasted in an engine. The equipment not only improves energy efficiency, but also has the potential to reduce emissions, making it a great solution in the search for cleaner, more sustainable energy practices.

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Having an intelligent energy management system is also important. These systems actively manage power demand and intelligently shut down non-essential assets when power demand increases, contributing to more effective resource management.

Flybrid By Punch, A Technology Inspired By The High-Speed World Of Formula 1 Flybrid by Punch, a technology inspired by the high-speed world of Formula 1. (Photo: Punch)

In addition, reducing the size of generators not only reduces rental and fuel costs, but also has a positive effect on reducing emissions.

Another aspect that Marsh mentioned is the modernization of the current road fleet to operate with diesel or H2. This innovation is not only limited to road vehicles, but can also be transferred to off-road machinery.

In fact, the first dual-fuel piloting platform was also tested on the HS2 project. However, Marsh warned of the importance of implementing a hydrogen infrastructure that supports the availability and distribution of this clean and efficient resource in technological breakthroughs.

Finally, hydrogen fuel cell technology plays an important role in the construction industry.

This development not only promotes the adoption of hydrogen as a clean energy source, but also drives the development of safe protocols for fuel handling and storage.

Importantly, this technology offers zero harmful exhaust emissions, making it an environmentally friendly solution for the construction industry, while contributing to a safer and healthier work environment.

Conclusion

The construction industry is at a pivotal moment in its evolution towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. While Latin America is moving towards stricter regulations, these soft measures, such as equipment modernization, intelligent energy management and the adoption of hydrogen technologies, have proven to be important steps in reducing CO2 emissions and improving air quality at construction sites.

In addition, inspiring examples, such as the HS2 project in the UK, show how innovation and the adoption of clean technologies can have a significant impact on building efficiency and sustainability. With a continued focus on implementing these solutions and working together to create sustainable infrastructure, the construction industry is positioned to lead the way toward a cleaner, healthier future for all.