9 Technologies Used to Meet Sustainability Goals in Construction
The world needs infrastructure as the global population grows and current structures deteriorate with age. However, the construction industry — which bears the weight of creating new homes, businesses and other facilities — is responsible for 39% of carbon emissions worldwide.
To protect ecosystems, the climate and our communities, the construction sector must take action to help reduce emissions and waste. These nine technologies are making it easy for companies to meet sustainability goals.
1. Green Building Materials
Traditional building materials — such as steel, reinforced concrete and glass — have a high carbon footprint. The production of these components releases dangerous chemicals into the air and produces waste. Within structures, they release emissions into the atmosphere.
Modern technology combined with old-school methods can create more sustainable buildings. Treated bamboo can create strong and efficient building frames while producing little to no carbon emissions. It’s easy to grow and organizations could use it in its raw form.
Another option is helping the construction and agriculture industries. Modern straw bale technology creates strong and insulated structures from by-products of farms.
2. Biodegradable Materials
Biodegradable materials also play a large part in creating better buildings for the environment. Technology allows for organic paints, which don’t release the emissions and chemicals traditional formulas do.
Many sustainable building materials — such as bamboo and straw solutions — are biodegradable. They hold their structure for decades and nourish the earth below them once they wear down.
Other biodegradable materials include wood, grasscrete, cork, linoleum and bioplastic. They’re good for a home’s structure, flooring, insulation and fixtures.
3. Managing Waste Disposal
Around 145 million tons of landfill debris come from the construction sector annually. Businesses are now using other disposal methods to minimize their waste.
3D printing makes it possible to produce materials to exact measurements and create intricate designs, eliminating small excess materials that are unusable. Modern construction equipment can deconstruct old buildings, salvaging the materials for future use. This process reduces the number of items in landfills emitting carbon and the emissions from creating new materials.
Companies can bring in more money by selling old construction equipment. Large machines take up a lot of landfill space, releasing harmful emissions without providing any benefits. Heavy equipment auctions can take the items off an organization’s hands, often selling to personal owners who want them for personal projects or contract work.
Another option for selling old equipment is using a consignment program. Dealers will take the machinery off the company’s hands and sell it for them in exchange for a portion of the profit.
4. Cloud Computing
The industry uses paper in many ways, like creating blueprints, tracking data and distributing changes. Many of these items are laminated, which makes them difficult or impossible to recycle. These documents then end up in landfills, releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Businesses can replace paper altogether by utilizing the smartphones, computers and tablets they likely have already on-site. Cloud computing makes it easier than ever to instantly distribute documents to anyone who needs them. Leadership can send and sign documents via the cloud, and managers can draw and make notes on documents, or send memos to everyone on a site in seconds, which their devices can instantly notify them about.
Using the cloud is more sustainable and makes operating a construction company easier than ever. Its built-in safety features also protect sensitive project information from the wrong hands.
5. Green Machinery
Construction equipment is going green with fully electric and hybrid vehicles. Unlike traditional gas, these machines produce little to no emissions, significantly cutting an organization’s carbon footprint. Experts predict they will soon take over the market.
Many efficient machines are already in use. Low-emissions forklifts, excavators, dumpers and access platforms slice the number of fumes compared to traditional options. Fully electric bulldozers provide smooth, fumeless operation. Corporations like Volvo plan to reach net-zero emissions with these machines in the next few decades.
6. Improving On-Site Conservation
When considering long-term conservation goals, it’s easy to neglect the small things that significantly impact the environment. Prohibiting smoking on construction sites, treating water on-site to prevent the use of water bottles, and encouraging workers to recycle all play a part in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. The small changes will make a massive difference for the planet and the entire crew’s health.
7. Self-Healing Infrastructure
New technology is using organic matter and enzymes to heal broken building materials, such as concrete and synthetic materials. They are exactly as they sound — filling in small cracks before they become a larger issue.
Self-healing infrastructure reduces the need for excess inefficient materials typically used to repair structures. They also help keep current components strong, helping them last longer than they would under normal conditions.
When the organisms — like bacteria — detect a break, they can multiply until they fill the crack. Modern self-healing technology uses carbon enzymes to complete that process faster, better preserving the structure.
8. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) can save construction companies time and money by providing safe and effective training that eliminates wasted materials or inefficient planning. Modern technologies allow VR headsets to offer site layouts, helping teams plan how to approach each area. The less time wasted on the site, the easier to meet the business’s sustainability goals.
VR doesn’t just allow organizations to be more sustainable. It also makes their operations safer, enabling crew members to navigate potentially hazardous situations virtually before tackling them.
Construction exoskeletons are suits that allow workers to complete tasks more easily, such as lifting and grabbing items. Investing in exoskeletons will enable workers to take on larger projects in less time, reducing the number of days a crew is on a work site.
When a crew completes a build in less time, the project will produce fewer emissions and debris, creating a more sustainable environment. It also decreases the days workers could be exposed to harmful fumes during construction.
Meeting Sustainability Goals in the Construction Industry
The construction industry has a sustainability problem, but more companies are setting goals to reduce emissions and eliminate waste. These technologies make it easier than ever to meet those goals.