How will the future of construction look like, and what are you doing to stay up to date with changes? In New Zealand the construction industry is moving towards increased sustainability, driven by client demand and regulation. 75% of the wider construction industry’s customer base are central and local governments who face public pressure. Furthermore, with the changes in the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, there is legal pressure to procure from sustainable businesses.
Our 2020 Construction Industry Survey found that:
- More than 1 in 3 (37 percent) of contractors say that their clients had indicated that the contractor’s sustainability practices will impact their procurement decisions.
- 1 in 5 (20 percent) of contractors noted that the inclusion of more environmental outcomes in procurement is already affecting their business.
Technology trends for 2021 and beyond
The tech industry is developing new ways to help contractors meet their sustainability targets without bearing unreasonable costs. In fact, many sustainability-focused technologies will help reduce costs by limiting the waste of materials and energy. Here are the tech trends that will change the industry over the next decade:
Electric utes and trucks are on the way
Electric vehicle (EV) technology is rapidly developing around the world and in New Zealand. Alsco NZ, a textile rental service, is running the country's first inter-city heavy EV truck. It calculates that the one EV truck will save at least 25,000 litres of diesel and 67,610 kg of CO2 per year.
Use equipment management software to track and manage emissions
Many Kiwi contractors already have fleet tracking in place for their vehicles. However, fewer have expanded to include their plant – which are massive consumers of diesel and can have a substantial impact on sustainability. Now, organisations are taking advantage of equipment management software to calculate the emissions of the whole fleet including the plant.
With accurate data, businesses can benchmark and set new strategies to reduce their emissions, such as tackling excessive idling, replacing some vehicles with hybrid or EV varieties, and upskilling both drivers and machine operators on how to run their vehicles in a more efficient way.
Time to purchase sustainable machines
As you probably know - idling is a waste of fuel. But did you know that it’s one of the largest expenses for most construction companies? Every litre of diesel saved also correlates to 2.6kg less carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere. The new machines on the market have features such as idle mode, which lowers the engine’s RPM after 5-10 seconds of inactivity, and even auto-off systems when idle.
Using recycled material
There is rapid change occurring in chemical technology. Oil-based materials and 100% virgin materials (i.e., no recycled content) are a heavy drag on sustainability in civil construction. Materials producers are introducing low-carbon cement replacements such as fly ash, slag and pumice. The use of recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) has also become increasingly frequent overseas.
Recycled materials can have significant commercial benefits, particularly when disposal costs and transport costs are considered. A road refurbishment in the UK where around 2500 tonnes of material was recycled onsite, the use of RAP saved over 50 percent in material costs.
In New Zealand, a 2018 report found that recycled aggregate material accounts for only up to 1 percent of materials used in NZTA’s maintenance projects and road construction. This is low by international standards and represents an opportunity for contractors to increase use of recycled materials.
Sustainable Construction – how will it affect you?
The shift towards a more sustainable economy will continue to affect the industry in New Zealand. Simultaneously, construction technology continues to rapidly develop and even accelerate. In the year ahead, contractors will need to keep their eye on the bottom line while also considering how they can future proof their business. Sustainability measures, aided by useful technology, such as equipment management software, will undoubtedly be an important part of delivering future construction projects in New Zealand.