Rethinking Construction Projects with an ESG Lens

Apr 22 2024

By: Dan Woolcott

In the global push towards a sustainable future, the construction industry stands out as a bit of a sore thumb in the conversation around change. Collectively, as an Industry, I genuinely think we are not doing enough.  With a focus on building the infrastructure of tomorrow, such as renewable power stations and green energy transmission lines, there lies a stark irony; we continue to plan and execute projects using outdated methods that contribute to the very environmental issues we’re striving to combat.

Australia, a country with vast landscapes and ambitious infrastructure projects has commendable intentions but I feel the execution often falls short in terms of sustainability. The construction industry, responsible for shaping the nation’s future, must take proactive steps to minimise waste and emissions. Plant alone is a significant contributing factor, not to mention the additional waste of resources using outdated planning and allocation methods.

One of the glaring issues is the quantity of fossil fuel burning plant being deployed. With new technology, that gives us full site and plant visibility, we can now debunk the assumption that traditionally planned quotas are required.

Tech enhanced benchmarking now tells us, more often than not, there are surplus plant on today’s sites, leaving hefty machines and their drivers idling.  Not only burning fossil fuels but also contributing to the productivity conundrum of how we will reach our infrastructure goals for the energy transition and even more time bound projects like the Brisbane 2032 Olympics.

It’s time for a shift in how we approach construction projects. Instead of blindly adhering to traditional methods, we must embrace innovation and technology to revolutionise the industry. Forward-thinking markets have already recognised this need, implementing contractual obligations to report on emissions and holding themselves accountable for their environmental impact. One example being the UK’s Lower Thames Crossing Project, the first infrastructure project in the UK to put a contractual obligation on carbon emissions and mitigation controls due to construction.

Technology, where is exists and is readily available, should and ought to be deployed not only to save money, but to deliver more infrastructure assets from the same fixed project resource pool. The obvious additional benefit being that this common sense approach is also essential for a sustainable future and controlled, reduced carbon emissions.

Efficiency and productivity are the guiding principles for every construction PMO. By optimising resource usage and adopting smarter practices, we can achieve better value across financial, productivity and emissions reduction. Part of our passion at Lewis Woolcott for pioneering technology for infrastructure, is so that we can now monitor and report on construction sites more effectively. Even CO2 emissions by plant, ensuring that every aspect of the process can align with both project and sustainability goals. It also makes basic financial common sense not to wastefully burn diesel on a major scale.

This is possible if we’re willing to challenge the status quo and embrace change. The Australian infrastructure and construction industry must lead by example, demonstrating that sustainability and progress go hand in hand. By integrating greener practices and cutting-edge technology into our projects, we can build a legacy that future generations will commend, not condemn.

Dan Woolcott is co-founder of Lewis Woolcott, a technology driven consultancy that channel decades of collective infrastructure delivery experience into pioneering consulting and project management software solutions. Lewis Woolcott supports major infrastructure and construction projects helping them control, forecast, manage and report.

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Rethinking Construction Projects with an ESG Lens