How major infrastructure projects can lead the way to net zero

Infrastructure green Ellis Fox Blog

There is a great deal of pressure on the construction industry to accelerate their efforts to achieving net zero. Several main contractors have already outlined their plans to switch to electric or hydrogen vehicles, consider building with recycled materials and implement technology solutions that’ll help them reduce their carbon footprint. The current challenge for construction leaders is making an informed choice on the best route forward while navigating the practicalities of making the transition.

The need to scale net zero solutions

While there may be many paths to achieving net zero, not all are ready for implementation right now. Many technologies and solutions have been tried and tested, but suppliers are hesitant to invest more in ramping up production or developing infrastructure because there currently isn’t sufficient demand to make it viable. This can present a catch 22 as the construction industry may be able to identify possible net zero solutions, but then be faced with the reality that implementation is likely to be delayed due to limited supply or infrastructure. Instead of accelerating net-zero efforts, this is resulting in a further stumbling block.

Who will make the first move?

Given this current dilemma, it is very encouraging to see major infrastructure projects such as HS2 willing to pioneer the way forward. They are already implementing a plan to retrofit existing diesel plant machinery with hydrogen and hybrid alternatives and now they’re looking to develop hydrogen fuel depots for the project that’ll create the infrastructure needed for wider industry adoption. It is part of broader project vision to create more opportunities to build more efficiently.

How can construction leaders drive change?

While the current situation may appear challenging it is also a great opportunity for collaboration. The road to net zero isn’t optional, it’s essential and extremely urgent. Rather than hesitating due to a lack of supply, it’s in the best interests of construction leaders to follow HS2’s example and collaborate with industry partners to identify ways to make it work for the industry, regardless of the preferred fuel. Collectively the industry can create the demand that’s needed and then all stand to benefit. Learning from other industry players can help reduce risk and speed up time to implementation by generating the demand for infrastructure. Achieving net zero is a long term goal, but one that shouldn’t be delayed.