What does the future of net-zero construction look like?
One of the biggest challenges construction leaders face when it comes to achieving net-zero is bridging the gap between environmental ideals and construction realities. Building methods are so entrenched that getting everyone to shift and align priorities won’t be easy. Fortunately some main contractors are taking a progressive approach, willing to pioneer ideas and share knowledge gained in the broader industry. What are some of the considerations that construction leaders need to factor in?
While most main contractors have established supply chains, achieving net-zero will require looking at alternate building materials. The idea behind net-zero hinges strongly on using materials that are already in circulation within the economy, rather than producing new materials from virgin resources. Construction sites generate a great deal of waste. Reducing waste should start to rank higher in priorities for project managers.
Additionally where there is waste, efforts to reuse, repurpose or recycle materials should be prioritized. Within the waste management industry there are already many companies focusing on supporting the construction industry and recycling materials. Collaborating across industries as well as among different project managers and commercial directors within the company has potential to create more net-zero opportunities.
Supporting innovators and startups
One of the challenges innovators face even after they have proven the benefits of new technologies is broader industry adoption. Innovators need main contractors’ support and buy in to prove their concepts can work at scale. While there is a certain amount of risk attached to this, if successful it can put the company streaks ahead in terms of efficiencies achieved. Additionally once economies of scale are achieved it makes new technologies and methodologies more accessible to the broader industry.
Ideally change should start with design, not just in terms of architects and engineers, but also materials, construction methods and bidding. It’s becoming more important in framework bidding to be able to demonstrate social and environmental value and showcase this through design. New types or repurposed materials may be stronger, require less construction or maintenance and these can all create efficiencies and deliver environmental benefits.
Traditionally many companies have held on to new knowledge as a way to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. However, being willing to share knowledge with the broader industry demonstrates there’s a bigger goal in mind – that of sustainability. It’s certainly a goal worth getting behind.