The Future of Renewable Energy in The Construction Industry

August 4, 2021

Renewable Energy has been a large focus for many industries in the past few years with dozens of companies focusing on hydroelectric and solar cars, batteries, energy sources, and more; it’s likely that many major Construction companies will be moving in a more environmentally friendly direction as well. New technologies are emerging regularly to combat global warming and other environmental concerns. These technologies are allowing the construction industry to shift in a more green direction.

A major factor that many in the industry are taking into consideration is CO2 emissions from construction equipment. Power tools, materials, debris, new development, transportation, and more all play a role in the release of CO2 emissions. In fact, according to The Guardian, it’s estimated that 50 tons of CO2 emissions are generated to build one new house. And with millions of those and even larger scale buildings being constructed around the country, it’s clear that something must be done to focus on more renewable resources.

So what can the industry do to save the environment? The current push is for industry leaders to put more emphasis on solar, hydroelectric, wind, and other renewable energy sources.

 Solar energy is nothing new and can even be found in something as basic as a light that stakes into the ground to project on the sidewalk. And while many homeowners and businesses are adding solar panels to their homes during and after construction, companies are also now starting to utilize more of this resource in the construction of these homes and businesses. In fact companies like Volvo recently released a line of solar-powered equipment and heavy machinery. Since these machines typically require a lot of oil to operate, this is certainly a step in the right direction to reducing carbon emissions. 

In addition to solar, wind energy is becoming more widely popular, especially in the electric industry. While solar power is much more flexible than wind, many sites are now incorporating wind turbines as a main method of power. While wind may turbines may not be so easy to transport and use on the go, like solar, wind energy is extremely inexpensive at a mere 1-2 cents per kilowatt-hour whereas some states charge upwards of 20 cents per kilowatt-hour for standard electricity. Due to the savings many construction sites and moving towards wind energy turbines to power their sites while awaiting electricity rather than using gas-powered generators.

A less commonly used renewable resource in the industry is hydroelectric. While hydroelectric is increasing in popularity in other industries, it’s a more difficult resource to use with construction sites. Similar to wind energy it is not easily set up for temporary uses and also a water source would need to be nearby, but companies are still able to feed off the power if a plant is nearby. Since water is typically easy to find, since it falls from the sky in most places, it’s also important to consider how that water can be recycled during the construction of the home. For instance, rain barrels can be implemented at the beginning of construction to reuse water for the purpose of construction, such as setting concrete or placing landscaping. The barrels can then be implemented in the completed construction to power irrigation systems and maintain the landscaping around the site.

Overall, renewable resources must be considered where and when available for all construction sites in an effort to aid climate control and reduce carbon emissions from the construction industry. Over the next few years, it’s likely that these will become more of standard implementation and practice on all new build sites and other eco-conscious technologies will emerge that aid in this process.

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