Achieving net-zero emission in the construction industry is challenging and needs a significant amount of investment in R&D, innovations, new technologies, and in capacity building.
Welspun Enterprises - Amor Kool, ESG Lead
At Welspun, we are already in the process to inventorise our assets in terms of carbon emissions and identifying critical areas which need to be addressed. The key aspect is to identify our carbon footprint, which includes all phases of our project lifecycle. We have already taken initiatives such as installation of solar panels and LED lights, and development of green walls along our road projects. In future, we’ll be taking more such actions to reduce the carbon footprint to help achieve the net-zero emission goal.
Waste reuse a resource
Waste is being used as a resource in the construction industry where concrete debris is utilized for backfilling. Materials such as fly ash and pond ash have contributed tremendously, specifically in road construction. We have utilized pond ash as a partial replacement product for soil in embankments.
As an experiment, we used inert material from landfills and utilized a substantial amount for embankments by mixing it with soil. In this process the screened waste which comprises of soil, fine debris, biodegraded material (screened to the acceptable size) was used in filling the embankment layers after due testing to ascertain its conformance to specifications. The initiative was supported by the Government of Delhi by providing screening support through one of their agencies.
As per the Energy Conservation Act (2001) amendment passed by the Government of India, a new policy has been developed - creating Carbon Credits for Indian markets. The carbon credits as of today are voluntary and the payback to the investment is not adequate to make a business case. However, with the new amendment, it is expected that carbon credits will become relevant.
The Carbon Credit scheme is yet to be rolled out by the Government of India and until then, the industry should be positive about the scheme. Primarily, the collaborations between industries can only be identified once the local carbon credit scheme is out and its implication established.
Lack of collective incentive
It is true that the construction industry often faces challenges due to fragmentation and a lack of collective incentive. However, there are already too many regulatory bodies directing the vision and mission of the construction industry. Adding another body will further create redundancies and more compliances, which may not be required for the industry to function effectively.
The innovations, nonetheless, are driven by industry players at different levels. It is important that the Government and industry bodies acknowledge such initiatives and share the technology to expand beyond the few industry players. Also, in the construction industry, having a policy of “stick and carrot” to promote sustainability would be welcomed.
There are many challenges when transitioning to low-carbon construction methods, though, the most fundamental of them remains capacity building and awareness - a challenge that forces both big and small industry players to stick to the rudimentary way of construction.
A much larger vision and openness is required in the industry to accept new technologies and way of working on projects. At Welspun, the leadership mandates the project team to look beyond what is being practiced in general and create a culture of innovation to improve upon what is being practiced. The company conducts mandatory training on ESG, safety, human rights etc on a regular basis. It includes its employees, sub-contractors and suppliers.