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New report with insights from leading construction industry experts finds construction is set for an electric future

Construction industry experts, including team members from Willmott Dixon, Colas Group, Innovate UK and NCC unanimously call for a ‘clean recovery’ from COVID-19, according to a new report published today by Hyperdrive Innovation, one of the UK’s leading designers and manufacturers of lithium-ion battery technology.

An Electric Decade in Construction‘ – which includes views from fifteen leading industry experts across Europe – forecasts a rapid growth in demand for cleaner, electric equipment. The study finds that the COVID-19 pandemic has injected a renewed sense of urgency into existing challenges the industry has faced in recent years, including tightening air pollution legislation, meeting carbon emissions targets and an ever-increasing demand for infrastructure.

“Within the challenges on the industry to clean up its operations, lies a rich opportunity to jump-start the transition to cleaner equipment.” said Stephen Irish, Commercial Director of Hyperdrive Innovation. “This report clearly and unequivocally finds that the next decade will be shaped by a rapid transition to cleaner, zero-emission construction equipment. Now is the time for the industry to take a leading role in achieving a more sustainable future.

ELECTRIC FUTURE

‘An Electric Decade in Construction’ found that the next ten years in the industry will be centred around four key themes; speed, safety, sustainability and simplicity.

  • SPEED: Delays caused by COVID-19 means that projects will need to increase productivity to meet deadlines and avoid unwanted additional costs. With electrified equipment considerably quieter than traditional equipment, the number of hours per day where machinery can be used can be extended, enhancing productivity and speeding up construction processes.
  • SAFETY: COVID-19 has also brought a renewed focus on workplace safety within the industry – specifically, the pandemic has shone a spotlight onto the dangers of air pollution. To meet tightening air quality legislation and protect workers and the public against air pollution from construction sites, the industry is looking to move away from noisy, polluting diesel engines and generators and towards cleaner, quieter electrified machinery.
  • SUSTAINABILITY: The built environment accounts for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of carbon dioxide emissions in the EU, making decarbonisation essential.[1] Stricter engine and emissions legislation to meet climate targets is driving the industry away from its reliance on fossil fuels.
  • SIMPLICITY: Lower fuel and maintenance costs and being future proofed against the ever-changing legislative landscape, will drive the construction industry towards simple electrified equipment. The industry also expects an uptick in demand for a ‘modern methods’ approach to construction, using prefabricated, standardised building components developed off-site, to simplify and clean up construction processes.

BUILDING BACK FROM COVID-19

As countries went into lockdown across the world almost overnight, many building projects came to a stop, and thousands of constructions sites closed. As lockdowns ease across the globe, construction will now need to be ramped up to meet the growing demand for infrastructure across Europe.

Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The construction industry has a vital role to play in rebuilding the UK’s economy, creating new skilled jobs while tackling environmental issues such as air pollution. Like Hyperdrive, our ambition is to build back greener, and I look forward to working closely with industry to boost the sector through continued investment in the latest green technologies.”

Mike Pitts, Deputy Challenge Director – Transforming Construction at Innovate UK and contributor to the report said: ‘‘In the past, the construction industry has been somewhat reluctant to make use of the latest innovations. But this is changing rapidly as the industry is starting to realise the benefits of embracing innovation. Times of crisis can often lead to rapid change. Recovery from COVID-19, could accelerate the adoption of technology to help speed up construction processes.”

Stephen Irish added: “Not only is electrified equipment more sustainable but it also has a host of operational benefits, including fuels costs, driver safety and quieter sites. Rapid developments in battery technology are making electric equipment cheaper and more efficient, unlocking additional opportunities for construction managers focussing on cleaning up their sites.”

[1] European Commission – In focus: Energy efficiency in buildings

Read the full report here