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The construction industry is more progressive than other sectors when it comes to investing in and utilizing renewable energy. Solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energies are all being explored and in some cases, championed in the construction sector.
Reliance on Fossil Fuel-Based Energy
There is a global recognition in the industry that rely on fossil fuel-based energy has become untenable. Haven Power, a major business supplier in the UK construction sector, conducted a survey of major firms in 2018. The survey revealed that over 60% back renewable energy solutions, with 3 out of 5 of the major firms selected endorsing the idea of selling unused energy back to the UK National Grid. However, the UK construction industry is not alone in this forward-thinking attitude.
In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change produced a special report that was cited during a meeting at the UN General Assembly in March 2019. The report gave humanity approximately 11 years to reverse the environmental damage caused by human-made carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution.
The global construction sector has not ignored this report. China has become the largest producer, exporter, and installer of solar panels, wind turbines, back up batteries and electric vehicles, with many of their older smoke-stack based construction sites and energy plants being replaced with greener alternatives. As of 2016, the country owned over 150,000 renewable energy patents (29% of the global total) indicating a clear strategy of investment in clean technologies and renewable energy sources.
The US Construction Sector
The US construction sector has been making its advances as well. In 2015 a survey conducted by the US Department of Energy concluded that the country’s construction sector was responsible for 40% of total energy consumption in the USA. This served as a minor ‘wake up’ call to the sector, encouraging more investment in greener construction practices and on-site renewable energy sources.
Low impact building materials, modular building to reduce waste, LEED-certified structures (Leading in Energy and Environmental Design) and energy-saving tech like Hexocover have all been introduced throughout the US construction industry and beyond. Hexocover itself has reduced energy waste in mining by solving water evaporation in mining tailings ponds.
At the same time, the technology generates energy utilizing solar panels providing stored energy for battery reserves. The application of this and similar green technologies around the world is exciting and can further help in the battle to prevent climate change.
Renewable Energy and the Construction Industry
When it comes to renewable energy and the construction industry, everything begins with the design process. Architects today consider factors including, natural light, rooftop solar panels, smart windows, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and water heaters. Construction sites globally are working to adopt a circular economy model.
The circular economy’s primary goal is to ensure each stage of any project feeds into the next stage without creating any waste or redundant materials, including energy. Building designs working to this model are tailored to be restorative, produce low waste, and either recycle or store energy.
Recent policy changes in both the US and UK markets have caused a minor slow down in the construction and utilization of wind farms, particularly onshore. As a result, renewable energy has become more expensive to procure in some areas of the sector.
Fortunately, the construction sector knows it has a big role to play in helping to move the world away from reliance on fossil fuels and adopt cleaner energy practices. The future maintains a glimmer of hope as more and more construction firms increase their investment and reliance on renewable and energy-efficient technologies.
Sources and Further Reading