For some industries, achieving net zero means gradually reducing emissions over the next two decades. But when it comes to construction, any building or infrastructure project completed today will most likely still be operational in 2050. As a result, the need for the entire sector to focus on net zero is right here, right now.
The push for sustainable construction
In the next few years, spending on infrastructure by Australia’s state and federal governments is expected to top $166 billion. While this is great news for architecture and construction, it will also bring significant challenges to the industry; the current supply chain and processes are plagued by inefficiency and waste and, what’s more, the sector as a whole is responsible for 40 per cent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Last year, in a huge step toward sustainable construction, Infrastructure Australia, the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor, announced a set of governance, economic, social and environmental criteria—which it terms a quadruple bottom line—that will inform future investment recommendations. As a result, all eyes will be firmly on the plans, designs, and processes beneath every bid submitted.
In fact, we collaborated with the Australian Constructors Association, Consult Australia and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council on a joint report, A NET ZERO FUTURE: Delivered Through Our Infrastructure Pipeline, to support the acceleration of a net-zero future throughout the construction value chain. Our findings show that the solution to sustainable construction is to adopt a systems-based approach across the entire asset lifecycle, including procurement, materials, methodologies, technology and people capability.
Our report cites three principles for success: commitment, collaboration and continuous improvement. It also points to studies that indicate emissions from materials and construction (embodied emissions) could be nearly halved by using currently available technologies and methods to meet building and infrastructure needs while making the process safer, more predictable and more sustainable.
The technology behind sustainable construction
The technology required is already available and in use around the world. For example, our suite of cloud-based technologies leads the market for generative design. Autodesk Build includes a feature known as the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) which can help builders identify ways to use resources more efficiently, and reduce up to 30% of emissions. The outcome is not only a reduction in emissions but also a reduction in costs.
These benefits are achieved by enabling effective communication and collaboration throughout the construction value chain of design, plan, build and operate, which is a surefire way to ensure inefficiency and emissions are both confined to the past.
The benefits of sustainable construction
Implementing the right technology reduces risk, maximises efficiency and increases profits by connecting workflows, teams and data at every stage of construction. It also helps to reduce waste caused by unused materials, empty warehouse space and unnecessary costs.
Autodesk Construction Cloud software helps automate complex processes and transforms data into actionable insights that empower innovators to make better decisions and achieve superior outcomes. In addition, project management technology like this leads to safer work environments and greater project predictability. These improvements ultimately have a positive impact on both sustainability and the bottom line.
There’s an urgent need to transition to sustainable construction. And while that may seem like a major upheaval, there are many opportunities to reduce emissions at every step in the construction process. It’s also a change that will bring plenty of upsides because, as well as the obvious long-term environmental benefits, investing in sustainable construction processes also comes with significant financial benefits.
If it’s something you’re eager to learn more about or you simply don’t know where to start, then join us for our A NET ZERO FUTURE: Success strategies for sustainable construction webinar. Featuring a panel of industry leaders from the Asia Pacific World Green Building Council and Infrastructure Sustainability Council ANZ, our panelists will share research-based insights on how Asia Pacific organisations can overcome barriers to achieving greater sustainability in built environments.