Vestian - Shrinivas Rao

the construction industry
By embracing digitalization, the construction industry can contribute to greater efficiency, higher productivity, and sustainable development, aligning with India’s carbon emission reduction goals.

Vestian - Shrinivas Rao, CEO

In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, the construction industry is witnessing a significant shift towards embracing digital technologies. The recent pandemic catalysed adoption of digitalisation across all industries, including the construction industry. It was either join the digital bandwagon or be left out.

Leveraging technology as a way forward
The construction industry leveraged technologies like drones, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, virtual reality, IoT enabled devices, digital twin technology, and BIM to enhance efficiency and collaboration, reduce waste, and optimise resource usage. Use of energy modelling and simulation tools helped analyse building energy performance - enabling energy efficient design strategies and reducing carbon footprint.

However, various stakeholders are at different points in their digitalisation journey and to encourage digital technology adoption, the industry must make focused efforts, raising awareness about the benefits, government support, fostering collaboration, developing industry standards, investing in research and development, offering financial support to SMEs, and showcasing successful projects.

Challenges and constraints
The construction sector faces several challenges in reducing its emissions. A major challenge is the huge reliance on carbon intensive materials and energy sources during the construction process. The industry often faces constraints in adopting sustainable construction practices due to cost considerations, lack of awareness, and resistance to change within traditional construction practices. Furthermore, the fragmented nature of the industry, with multiple stakeholders involved in each project, can make it challenging to implement coordinated sustainability initiatives.

Other challenges include rising consumer and/or industrial energy demand, deforestation, absence of climate change policies and programs, and problems implementing existing climate change policies.

Operational & embodied carbon
To accelerate the transition to net zero construction, two elements need to be kept in mind: tackling the operational carbon and handling the embodied carbon. Operational carbon can be minimized through use of green construction materials and practices like reusing, recycling, refurbishing existing material, use of low carbon material, bio sourced materials, use of renewable sources of energy along with energy efficient equipment and design, opting for sustainability standards like LEED, WELL building, implementing sustainable design - right from site selection to construction to operations of the building.

Tackling embodied carbon is difficult, and bringing their emissions down to zero is extremely tough. We need to be able to measure and manage embodied carbon, which requires an understanding of how our choices in early stages of design and development impact downstream. In fact, a thorough carbon analysis as a part of the design scope can help establish objectives and understand what will make the project sustainable as well as cost-effective.

Architects need to work in tandem with engineers, contractors, clients, governments, and communities towards a common goal of achieving net-zero emissions and address it as a priority. As part of a larger sustainability ambition, this commitment is key to creating an environment that is resilient to climate change, while also creating a lasting social and economic impact.

Resource management
Construction and demolition waste equals to a significant proportion of the solid waste found in landfills worldwide. In order to be relevant and sustainable, buildings need to be planned such that efficient resource and waste management is implemented throughout the various stages of a building’s life cycle. This will include pollution reduction, reuse and recycling, energy consumption, embodied carbon, and water resource management.

The need for considering sustainable deconstruction or disassembly prior to start of construction has led to the need for creating buildings based on the principle of “Designing for Disassembly’. This is defined as “The process of designing products such that they can be cost-effectively and rapidly taken apart at the end of their lifecycle, making the components pliant for reuse and/or recycle.” This ensures that the building can be quickly renovated or dismantled, either partially or wholly, and its parts (systems, materials, and components) reused or recycled as reconstituted building materials.

Designing for Disassembly
This design process includes developing assemblies, components, materials, construction techniques, and information and management systems.

As most components can be recovered, renovated, recycled/upcycled, the dismantling/demolition process does not create as much debris as compared to buildings constructed in the traditional way. Using this method increases the building’s lifecycle and in case of demolition, most of its components can be reused. As the concept takes into consideration materials that can be reused, it significantly reduces emissions caused during the demolition of a building like dust, noise, and mechanical equipment emissions, resulting in a lesser environmental impact. Additionally, it ensures better health for workers and occupants through reduction of toxic material selection for construction.
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