Sustainable development requires prioritizing on-site resource reuse which reduces transportation costs and the overall carbon footprint.
Maccaferri India - Vikramjiet Roy, Managing Director
India is actively addressing carbon emissions and aims to achieve net-zero by 2070. To expedite this goal, reducing the carbon footprint is crucial. The construction sector in India accounts for 22% of annual CO2 emissions, with four materials - Steel, Cement, Bricks, and Lime — contributing to 80% of construction-related emissions. As the infrastructure sector is projected to grow significantly, decarbonizing infrastructure development is necessary to prevent an increase in emissions. Sustainable development requires prioritizing on-site resource reuse, re-vegetation, and integration with the natural environment.
Waste management in the infrastructure industry plays a crucial role in converting waste into valuable resources. By implementing waste segregation and recycling systems, different types of waste materials can be separated and reused in construction processes, reducing the need for new resources. The global challenge of waste disposal, whether in landfills or other contaminated areas, requires innovative engineering solutions.
By incorporating geosynthetics such as geotextiles or geomembranes in various construction applications, it is possible to reduce the amount of traditional construction materials needed. Geosynthetics offer properties like strength, durability, and erosion control, making them a sustainable choice that minimizes waste generation. In addition to geosynthetics, exploring alternative construction materials further contributes to waste reduction. These materials can include recycled or reclaimed materials, such as recycled concrete aggregates or reclaimed wood, which divert waste from landfills while serving as viable alternatives to conventional construction materials.
Resource efficiency reducing wastage and carbon emission
Maccaferri has been at the forefront of addressing the challenges, offering a range of materials and technologies that contribute to effective waste management. Geogrids are utilized to reinforce soil, allowing for optimized landfill capacity. Impermeable liners like MacLine® ensure the containment and protection of pollutants within waste materials. To prevent erosion, MacMat® is employed on landfill slopes, while MacDrain® drainage geocomposites facilitate fluid drainage from landfills.
In addition to this, by substituting conventional construction materials with locally sourced alternatives like tunnel muck, unnecessary waste generation can be minimized while optimizing the utilization of available resources. This approach not only promotes resource efficiency but also contributes to a reduction in carbon emissions. This shift also supports the circular economy principles and fosters environmentally responsible construction practices.
Carbon credits & incentives
Tailoring a carbon credit policy specifically for the construction industry would encourage sustainable practices and the use of low-carbon materials and energy-efficient technologies. Collaborative efforts involving the government and industry stakeholders are necessary to develop accurate carbon emission calculators and set sustainability parameters for selecting project bidders. Moving away from the traditional Least Cost Selection Method and prioritizing sustainable techniques in procurement processes will ensure quality while effectively managing carbon emissions.
Incentives for reduction efforts can further motivate companies to prioritize sustainable development. Environmental experts and civil engineers can collaborate to establish standardized methodologies for measuring emissions across construction activities, including material production, construction processes, transportation, and energy consumption. Additionally, promoting research and development in low-carbon construction methods and materials will contribute to long-term emissions reductions in the industry.
India has several bodies working on innovative changes in the infrastructure sector. For example, the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) focuses on road transportation and offers professional consultancy. Clear Water Research & Infra Private Limited specializes in wastewater treatment technologies. CWPRS offers hydraulic and economic solutions for a range of issues related to water resources, energy, and water-based transportation, which include coastal and harbour engineering projects.
The Indian Road Congress has pledged to align itself with worldwide environmental initiatives, focusing on promoting cleaner, more energy-efficient and less polluting construction techniques. They also aim to promote the use of recycled waste materials, reduce extraction of natural resources, and encourage professionals to earn carbon credits through life cycle analysis for construction and transportation projects as part of their Environment Management Plan (EMP).
NITI AAYOG plays an important role in infrastructure and environmental protection. The Ministry of Environment oversees India’s environmental policies and provides information on project clearances and regulations related to pollution control and wildlife protection. However, it’s crucial to align their efforts with the pace of infrastructure development in the country. And aligning their progress with the country’s infrastructure growth can ensure optimal impact and maximize the benefits of their work.
Challenges for construction companies
Transitioning to low-carbon construction methods poses some challenges. One of the primary challenges is the initial investment required to adopt new technologies, processes, and materials that align with low-carbon principles. This may involve retrofitting existing infrastructure or implementing new construction practices that have higher upfront costs compared to traditional methods. There is a lack of a comprehensive standard system that defines relevant factors needed for reducing impact of infrastructure on the environment.
In addition to this, the absence of a carbon emission calculation method specifically tailored for the design phase poses a challenge. Companies may struggle to find suppliers or manufacturers that can provide the necessary materials or equipment at competitive prices, making it financially challenging to make the transition.
Furthermore, there may be a lack of awareness and knowledge among construction professionals about low-carbon construction methods. Training and education initiatives are essential to equip the workforce with the skills and expertise needed to implement these new practices effectively.
Maccaferri serves as a leading provider of advanced solutions to the civil, geotechnical, and environmental construction markets. We understand the importance of the Indian infrastructure sector and are committed to designing and developing solutions that offer sustainability and environmental preservation. Our innovative solutions such as gabion and geosynthetics, focus on sustainability and environmental preservation. These materials allow the use of local resources, reducing transportation costs and the overall carbon footprint.
The company prioritizes the use of sustainable techniques in infrastructure development, placing a strong emphasis on both quality infrastructure and environmental protection. It played a significant role in the USBRL project, which connects Kashmir to the rest of the country and is of national importance. The company provided sustainable solutions by implementing a unique flexible hybrid reinforced soil (RS) structure using tunnel muck. This innovative approach not only supports the railway track but also enhances seismic resistance while maintaining sustainability. By substituting locally available materials for traditional construction resources, Maccaferri achieved a substantial reduction of up to 80% in the project’s carbon emissions.