ConTech 2024 Focus on Sustainability, Durability & Speedy Construction

Indian Concrete Institute, New Delhi and Gurgaon Centres in association with Chalk Talk, jointly organized a two-day seminar, namely “ConTech 2024” in New Delhi from February 23rd to 24th, 2024. The theme of the event was ‘Let’s Construct Future: Vision 2050. The 25 technical talks by eminent speakers gave attendees a comprehensive understanding of the future of concrete technology and upcoming transformations in the construction industry. The event was graced by Dr. O.P Tripathi, Engineer-in-chief of Delhi PWD and her Excellency Mrs Capaya Rodriguez Gonzalez, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Indian Concrete Institute, New Delhi and Gurgaon Centres

Er. Pradeep Garg, Chairman of the ICI New Delhi Centre, welcomed the speakers and delegates and set the stage for discussions on upcoming innovative construction technologies and materials in construction industry for a sustainable development. Er. Anurag Sinha, Chairman, ICI Gurugram Centre, highlighted the importance of concrete in human society, being the second most utilized material on earth, after water.

Chief Guest Dr. O P Tripathi stated that the construction industry is the backbone of a country’s development. “Whether we embark on developmental activities or establish new industries, it all commences with construction. While enjoying the benefits of the construction industry, such as socio-economic development, employment generation etc., it is essential to acknowledge and address the challenges it faces, viz. time, cost and quality. “Quality remains a significant challenge, despite our efforts to address it. Cost, on the other hand, is largely contingent on how accurately we define and estimate the scope of work. However, time emerges as the most critical factor, affecting both cost and quality. Time delays often lead to disputes between stakeholders, escalating costs, and hampering project schedules,” he said.

“Categorizing delays is essential in order to effectively manage them. Delays attributable to the owner must be addressed first, as they often lead to subsequent delays at the contractor’s end. Timely resolution of delays is crucial to mitigating the adverse impact on project outcomes. Furthermore, while we reap the benefits of construction, we must also acknowledge the environmental impacts it entails. Construction activities consume natural resources, contribute to energy consumption, pollution, and generate waste, hence, sustainability must be accorded due consideration in all projects.”

Indian Concrete Institute, New Delhi and Gurgaon Centres

Her Excellency Mrs Capaya Rodriguez Gonzalez, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expressed her wish for sharing of technical knowledge and expertise of Indian technocrats with Venezuela in its developmental activities.

A session on ‘Sustainable & Lean Construction’, spearheaded by Dr. Shishir Bansal, ADG, CPWD and VP of ICI-North India, emphasized on pertinent issues for sustainability and durability of concrete structures. Structures should be designed with a focus on their service life and safety. He also presented his innovative idea of SETU Rating system. He proposed a Green rating system for infrastructure projects similar to the popular Green rating systems for building projects.

Presentation on construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya by Dr. Veeramani of L&T, elaborated the key technological features adopted for planned 1000 years design life of the temple structure.Er. B.P. Kulkarni of B G Shirke made a presentation on the benefits of Precast RCC Construction. He elaborated on benefits such as eco-friendly and sustainable, faster speed of construction, higher productivity of construction workers and cost-efficiency. He also discussed the necessity of bringing carbon neutrality during the construction of infra and real estate projects.

He stated “Our goal is to prioritize newer technologies. For every project, efforts should be made to minimize construction time, water and cement consumption.”

Prof. S.K. Singh, Chief Scientist at CBRI-CSIR, elaborated about efficient construction methods and new construction materials like renewable/recyclable building products which help in reducing the ecological impact and energy usage during the construction activities.

He stated “Construction is one industry where huge quantities of waste materials can be utilized. Transitioning from a linear economy to a circular one is essential for addressing issues related to natural resource depletion. The shift towards utilizing alternative materials and embracing new technologies is crucial for achieving sustainability goals. Finding cost-effective solutions is the need of hour to drive widespread adoption of waste utilisation in the construction industry. Unfortunately, there is limited awareness within the construction industry about usage of waste and sustainable technologies.”

Indian Concrete Institute, New Delhi and Gurgaon Centres

“The Government of India has initiated six lighthouse projects across the country, each employing different technologies to explore faster and sustainable ways of creating housing infrastructure in India. It’s essential to recognize that a singular solution for sustainability isn’t feasible. The adoption of new construction technologies and systems is crucial such as prefab steel and precast RCC construction system, self-powered buildings, cool roofs, and solar panels etc. For instance, at CSIR-CBRE, a net-zero building integrating geothermal and solar technologies, has been demonstrated. However, now focus is shifting towards construction of positive energy-based buildings, aiming not only to utilize energy efficiently but also to generate surplus energy for industries.”

Addressing the environmental impact of materials like cement and steel is of paramount importance, given their significant energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Water conservation is another critical challenge, particularly in regions facing water scarcity because construction industry is a significant consumer of water.

During the session on Durability in Concrete Construction, Er. Sushil Kathar of Penetron deliberated on the role of crystalline admixture for greater durability of concrete.

Er. P.N. Ojha, Jt.Director, NCCBM, discussed about extending the service life of concrete structures in critical environments. “Time plays a crucial role in structural assessment, particularly in meeting predefined time scales. Assessing secondary concrete performance over its service life is imperative. Durability, which directly impacts service life, is often compromised due to concrete deterioration.”

“Deterioration can occur through various mechanisms, both intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic factors, such as alkali-silica reaction or formation during high-temperature curing, can contribute to concrete deterioration. Extrinsic factors, on the other hand, involve external agents penetrating the concrete, leading to degradation. These agents, found in aggressive environments like soil, groundwater, coastal areas, or areas with high concentrations of CO2, can induce corrosion or sulphate attack. Understanding and mitigating these aggressors are essential for preserving concrete performance and prolonging its service life.”

Er. Ajit Bhate, Managing Director, Precast India Infrastructures, shared information on the potential of Precast Concrete in Sustainable and Lean Building Construction. Precast concrete is emerging as a highly effective solution for faster and quality construction. It also brings significant reduction in wastage and waste generation because in a factory setting, concrete production can be tightly controlled, resulting in minimal wastage, typically around 3% compared to the 15% seen in on-site construction.”

Indian Concrete Institute, New Delhi and Gurgaon Centres

“Moreover, precast concrete minimizes dust production, which has both environmental and social impacts. From a social perspective, locating construction activities in factories outside urban areas reduces the strain on resources such as water and electricity in densely populated cities. Mechanized processes in factories also reduce the need for a large workforce, with the potential to improve workers hygiene and welfare.”

“Furthermore, precast RCC construction significantly reduces the requirement of raw materials like cement, steel, aggregates by virtue of efficient designs. He showcased how precast RCC construction can also realise the innovative design ideas of architects into reality by the construction engineers.

In a session on Service Life Design of Structures, Er. Amit Barde, Head of Precast Division of L&T, discussed modern technologies for Smart Cities and Digital Ways in Construction. He referred to the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, which was constructed entirely using precast methods.

“Now, as we undertake construction of the high-speed railway, we’re witnessing yet another significant example of how global technologies are being adopted. Operational excellence in construction will revolve around mechanization, where technology and digitalization play crucial roles.”

Er. Vivek Naik, MD, Apple Chemie, speaking on innovations being made in Construction Chemicals, said that Metakaolin is specified in IS standards but isn’t commonly used. “When it comes to durability, we should focus on two key factors: the effects of supplementary cementitious materials and micro materials.”

As regards carbon neutrality, he said, “We need to reduce emissions and make structures sustainable, particularly focusing on achieving carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality means minimizing carbon emissions to the lowest possible level, rather than aiming for zero emissions. For instance, in the production of cement, historically, for every ton produced, nearly one ton of carbon dioxide is emitted into the environment. Similarly, in steel production, approximately 1.2 tons of carbon dioxide is emitted per ton of steel produced.”

Indian Concrete Institute, New Delhi and Gurgaon Centres

We must find ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across the manufacturing processes of not only steel and cement, but also in the production of other construction materials like glass, ceramics, bitumen etc. Every material and process involved in construction consumes energy, and reducing energy consumption can help minimize carbon emissions. From the plinth to the roof, every aspect of construction can be optimized to achieve overall carbon neutrality.”

Dr. Gopal Rai, CEO, Dhirendra Group, said, “Our engineering-centric approach extends to various projects, including live monitoring systems deployed on bridges. Through mobile applications, stakeholders can access real-time data on bridge deflection, load distribution, and structural stability, ensuring timely intervention and maintenance. The investment in such monitoring systems typically amounts to a mere 1% of the total project rehabilitation cost, offering significant returns in terms of safety and efficiency. He also shared several examples of successful retrofitting and rehabilitation projects to point out how to reduce demolition of old structures and save our natural resources.

Dr. Manmohan Kalgal, Advisor at UltraTech, informed that all construction activities have an impact on carbon or greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. He elaborated several modern and futuristic options and innovation underway to reduce carbon emissions in project design, materials and construction technologies. He stressed that though we need development, it should not be at the cost of higher carbon dioxide emissions.”

Ishita Manjrekar, Director, Sunanda Specialty Coatings, shared her expert views on comprehensive corrosion protection strategies for construction works thereby enhancing service life of structures in different built environments.

Er. Venkataramana Hegde, (FNAE), Eminent Design Engineer and Civil Engineering Expert, in his presentation on strategies to achieve net zero by 2070 for concrete structures, proposed savings of 19.2% from design efficiency, 19.2% from circular economy, and 41.5% from decarbonizing efforts. Direct carbon reduction and carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) are also viable options for reducing emissions further. He presented, in detail, how to calculate carbon credits for different construction related activities and materials.

Indian Concrete Institute, New Delhi and Gurgaon Centres

Er. Alok Bhowmick, Eminent Bridge design engineer gave an excellent presentation on digitization in construction industry and how AI shall play significant roles in future in construction industry also.

Er Anurag Sinha, ED, EIL, and Er. Pradeep Garg, SE, CPWD elaborated on developments in processing and utilisation of C&D wastes in India. They elaborated Govt. of India Solid waste management rules 2016 for handling and processing of C&D waste in India. Also latest BIS codes IS 383-2016 and IRC 121-2017 covers provisions for utilisation of C&D waste in constructions. It was elaborated how C&D waste shall play vital role in circular economy model in construction to reduce dependency on natural aggregates. Er. Bhagat Singh, CE, CPWD shared insights on successful utilisation of C&D waste products in major construction projects by CPWD and how CPWD is promoting sustainable construction practices in India by usage of C&D waste products.

ConTech also featured exhibitors showcasing innovations in construction materials and technologies. Exhibition stalls were put up by UltraTech cement, Fosroc Chemicals, Asian Lab, Rockworth furniture and several other leading manufacturers.

The 1st edition of ConTech ended on a successful note and Dr. Shishir Bansal, VP(North) ICI, announced that the next edition of ConTech shall be in March 2025.
ICCT, March - April 2024
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