By engaging with industry associations, research institutions, equipment manufacturers, and policy makers, the construction industry can tap into their expertise and collaborate on innovative solutions for reducing carbon emissions.
DB RRTS Operations India - Kumar Keshav, CEO
India has set ambitious target to achieve net-zero by 2070. Around 40% of the carbon footprint is generated by construction and buildings together due to various processes like lighting, cooling, and heating of building materials. In the journey to net-zero emissions, stakeholders from the construction industry, particularly those engaged in metro and RRTS projects, can significantly contribute to the country’s climate action strategy. They can achieve this by prioritizing sustainable design practices throughout a project’s lifecycle, incorporate passive design strategies, energy-efficient materials, and renewable energy systems, among others.
Envisioning a green public transport ecosystem requires developing end-to-end green mobility infrastructure. With respect to the construction industry, efficient transportation and logistics management during the construction phase, well-planned routes, low-emission vehicles, and public transportation for workers, can further contribute to emission reduction.
Multiple levers for net-zero construction
Innovative construction methods and technologies such as modular construction, off-site fabrication, and advanced energy management systems, are other avenues for reducing energy consumption. Investors too can play their part by giving priority to environmentally friendly and energy-efficient materials and equipment, opting for recycled or sustainable sources and employing energy-efficient lighting and construction materials to minimize environmental impact.
Integration of green infrastructure elements such as green roofs, vertical gardens, and urban forests, into construction projects can make a significant impact on emissions reduction as these green elements absorb carbon dioxide, mitigate heat island effects, and enhance air quality.
Establishing robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms to track the carbon footprint and energy consumption of construction projects ensures accountability and facilitates progress tracking. This data-driven approach guides decision-making and identifies areas for improvement.
Collaborating for innovative construction methods and technologies
Collaboration among various stakeholders, including government bodies, project developers, contractors, industry associations, research institutions, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and technology providers, is essential for the sharing of best practices, and resources. By working together, they can foster more effective solutions and drive innovation in reducing carbon emissions.
Since solutions for emission reduction lie along every point in the construction value chain, all players along the value chain can contribute to decreasing emissions. Hence, knowledge sharing among industry players, establishing platforms, conferences, and workshops where experiences, success stories, and challenges can be discussed, will promote collaboration and accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices.
Investing in R&D allows for the exploration of new technologies, materials, and construction methods that have the potential to significantly reduce emissions. By sharing information and best practices, the industry can promote sustainable practices, source environmentally friendly materials, prioritize energy-efficient products, encourage sustainable manufacturing processes, and establish common goals and metrics for decarbonization. And by collaborating with policymakers and regulators, the industry can develop supportive policies, incentives, and regulations that promote sustainable construction practices.
Initiating pilot projects with partners is another effective strategy. These projects can serve as tangible examples of sustainable construction, demonstrating their feasibility and benefits, inspiring wider adoption, and creating momentum for change. Lastly, establishing a framework for continuous improvement and monitoring of sustainability performance is crucial as regular assessments and feedback loops will allow the industry to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and adjust strategies accordingly.
Deriving value from waste at construction sites
Prefabrication and off-site manufacturing techniques offer significant opportunities to minimize construction waste. By producing components and modules in a controlled environment, waste can be minimized through precise material planning and optimization. This approach also improves construction efficiency and reduces the environmental impact of on-site activities.
Effective waste management requires collaboration with contractors, subcontractors, waste management companies, and regulators to develop strategies and implement measures that promote waste reduction, recycling, and responsible disposal practices.
The construction industry continually witnesses innovations in recycling technologies from advanced sorting systems to innovative processes for transforming waste into valuable materials. Implementing data tracking and monitoring systems help construction companies to accurately measure and record waste generation, set targets, monitor progress, and help identify areas for improvement.
Developing carbon emission calculators and establishing a carbon credit policy
Continuous improvement and feedback mechanisms are crucial for the carbon credit policy. This involves engaging with industry associations, experts, and stakeholders to create construction-specific calculators and standardized methodologies.
The industry should consider emissions throughout the project lifecycle and collaborate with carbon credit market platforms and regulators. Incentives and rewards for emission reductions should be developed. Collaboration with industry associations, experts, training institutes, and educational institutions can promote awareness and capacity building.
A centralized body will foster culture of decarbonization and sustainability
Innovation is the bedrock of any development. India is undergoing massive surge in innovation across sectors. Apart from Startup India, Invest India (department of industrial promotion policy), Atal Innovation Mission (Niti Aayog), MEITY’s MSH (Meity Startup Hub - Ministry for electronics and IT) are some of the central government key initiatives, which are catalyzing the innovation ecosystem in the country.
With respect to the construction industry, a centralized body would definitely help in augmenting decarbonization and sustainability. It would bring together government agencies, industry associations, research institutions, and private sector entities, to foster collaboration and synergy among the stakeholders.
It can also advocate policies for decarbonization and sustainability in the construction industry, influencing the development and implementation of regulations and incentives that drive positive change. It can introduce incentives to motivate and reward the industry stakeholders for their efforts in decarbonization, encourage adoption of sustainable practices, and recognize exemplary projects and initiatives.
By taking on these roles and responsibilities, a centralized body can actively contribute to changing perceptions, driving awareness, and fostering a culture of decarbonization and sustainability within the construction industry.
Challenges and benefits of transitioning to low-carbon construction methods
Transitioning to low-carbon construction methods presents some common challenges that include low-carbon construction methods that often require upfront investments in new technologies, materials, and training, but the long-term benefits, such as energy savings and reduced operational costs, can outweigh the initial investment.
Construction companies may struggle to find a diverse range of low-carbon materials and technologies in the market. Overcoming these challenges requires collaboration with suppliers, manufacturers, and industry partners to increase the supply and accessibility of such materials.
Transitioning to low-carbon construction methods often requires specialized skills and knowledge. Training programs and educational institutions can help bridge the skills gap and enable the adoption of low-carbon practices. Engaging with policymakers, industry associations, and experts can help navigate through challenges and provide input on shaping supportive policies.
Deutsche Bahn AG has set an ambitious goal to become climate neutral by 2040 by promoting alternative drives and fuels. Our experts are helping with the H2goesRail – a strategic DB Group project - and the introduction of battery electric trains at DB Regio. Examples of projects outside Germany include a zero-emission iron ore train project in Brazil for mining company VALE, and consulting on sustainable traction and zero-emission technologies in the United States. As part of these projects, specialists from the DB E.C.O. Group are helping customers to create a carbon-neutral fleet.