Paul Wallett - Regional Director - Trimble Solutions - Middle East and India -sustainable future - technology - techxmedia

Constructing a sustainable future with technology

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By Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Trimble Solutions Middle East and India

Today, as the upsurge in the building material cost continues, sustainable construction takes on greater importance and urgency in the Middle East region. Using “green” materials and energy-efficient mechanical systems is no longer enough. To reduce the environmental impact of construction, the industry must broaden its awareness of sustainability, which includes examining the quantity of waste produced which is expected to only rise in future. Out of total solid wastes generated in the UAE, the construction and demolition wastes or (C&D wastes) account for 70% of the total weight of solid wastes. Dubai alone produces nearly 5,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste every day. In Abu Dhabi, C&D wastes account for 71% of total wastes generated. In this background, embracing a holistic sustainable construction process is imperative. The AEC firms must attend to the societal impact, health, and safety of constructed assets, as well as the construction processes it adopts to create them.

Redefining Sustainable Construction

Sustainable construction has always been about ‘green construction’ and efforts have centered on reducing the energy consumption of built assets by including solar panels, triple-glazed windows, reflective roofing materials, etc.For infrastructure projects, the emphasis was on increasing the usage of recycled materials. The construction process was barely considered as an improvement area.  However, it is slated to change now.

Regulating Carbon Emissions

Buildings account for 39% of carbon emissions, according to the World Green Building Council. While the operational carbon resulting from heating, cooling, lighting, and operating a completedstructure accounts for 28%, energy used to generate building and structural materials accounts for 11%. By designing buildings that are environmentally beneficial to own and run, as well as avoiding material and resource waste during the construction process, the construction industry can have a significant positive impact on the environment.

Human Safety at sites

Along with the environment, sustainable construction is effective in reducing human harm. Prevention by Design (PtD), which is essentially an endeavor to reduce occupational risks by including prevention considerations in all designs that impact employees, is implemented in many regions of the world. Designers are encouraged to think about design improvements that would minimize frequent hazards at the construction sites. For example, mandate the use of cast-in sockets around floor openings and stairways, allowing for the installation of temporary guardrails while the building is being built. The guardrails prevent workers from falling in the first place, eliminating the requirement for a fall arrest device.

Better Resource Management

Even though engineers and designers have developed methods to make better use of construction materials, a lot of these materials, as significant as 20% turn into waste. While design changes account for a considerable part of construction waste, procurement and materials handling methods were also significant drivers, according to one research. Poor coordination, insufficient and late information, contract problems, and ordering errors were identified as some of the underlying causes of these issues by researchers. To counteract these challenges, all project stakeholders throughout the construction must collaborate to improve communication and data management.

Contributing to Societal Goals

Present day, project owners and investors are completely aware of the good sustainable construction can bring to the environment, society, human health at large and they’re looking for partners who share their values. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies of AEC companies are increasingly being reviewed during the selection process, and those who exhibit a clear and focused commitment are likely to gain a competitive edge.

Construct sustainably with connected construction

Connected construction is the key to boosting sustainability and minimizing the building industry’s carbon emissions, expenses, and waste. However, improvements must be made throughout the building process to decrease waste, increase productivity, and genuinely enable a connected crew.

Stakeholders in the AEC have a variety of resources at their disposal to address the sustainability concerns they confront. Design-build and construction manager at risk (CMAR) are two integrated project delivery methodologies that can bring project teams together to design and construct projects more effectively and sustainably. A variety of digital solutions are also improving information exchange and increasing collaboration among stakeholders, all of which contribute to attempts to increase sustainability by reducing errors, reducing waste, and delivering projects more safely and predictably.

Architecture firms are able to reduce energy usage by implementing cloud-based energy modeling tool. This energy modeling tool allow designers to understand the energy use, thermal comfort, carbon emissions, daylight, and HVAC performance of every project they design.

General contractors are employing robotics and 3D laser scanning to obtain accurate as-built data swiftly and remotely without putting workers in danger on hazardous job sites. The information is then shared with other project stakeholders in order to identify possible difficulties before they become more costly problems, increasing efficiency and decreasing rework and waste. Contractors are also leveraging machine control technology and material management systemto save time which equating to lower fuel use and better material utilization.

Much of the waste generated by construction can be addressed through better collaboration. The connected, content-enabled, and data-rich constructible models enables designers and contractors to work together earlier to address conflicts between the design and the environment and hash out any misinterpretations before ground is broken. As a result, constructible models are designed to a higher level of development (LOD) to eliminate uncertainty and reduce the need for rework and RFIs.

Cloud-based common data environment (CDE) solutions enables stakeholders to collaborate on construction data to work out design conflicts, identify on ground challenges, and collect data intelligence. That translates to less material used and fuel wasted, as well as minimized risk for workers on site. Open collaboration tools allows the construction firm combine design, project management, and engineering models on a single platform, which can be accessed in the office and in the field using tablets.

Elevating the Sustainable Construction Game

Sustainable construction has never been just a buzzword in the region. The Burj Khalifa, the world’s highest structure, is a perfect example of how advanced technology can be integrated for sustainable construction. Designed with solar panels as an additional energy source, the structure saves around 3,200 kilowatts a day.

Expo 2020 Dubai is tagged asthe ‘cleanest and greenest’ world exposition. The key buildings are LEED Gold-certified, a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership, ensuring they meet the highest sustainable construction standards, and 85% of all waste generated during the construction of the site and during the event itself will be recycled.

Governments are not only seeing the construction industry as a stimulus for the economy but also an opportunity to significantly contribute to the sustainable future. Therefore, the time is now that the industry level up and embrace technology with connected construction at core, eliminating waste, increasing efficiency and leading to greater sustainability, which will benefit businesses and the environment for years to come.

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