While integrating embodied-carbon tracking and reporting onto connected platforms is a complex feat, it ultimately will transform and revolutionize ESG efforts for the construction industry.
In the face of a climate crisis, the construction industry’s legacy is muddled by its colossal environmental impact: The built world is one of the largest industries in the world and accounts for nearly 40 percent of annual global carbon emissions; construction materials specifically account for approximately 11 percent.
In addition to carbon emissions, the industry sees an annual spend of $178 billion in rework — work that represents unnecessary spend that is unsustainably wasteful and largely avoidable. 48 percent of that rework, on average, is caused by poor project data and communication. According to a report from Transparency Market Research, the volume of solid construction waste generated worldwide every year clocks in at around 1.3 billion tons. This number is expected to nearly double to 2.2 billion tons by 2025. Outdated communication channels — fax, phone and paper — lead to poor communication; which, in turn, frequently results in costly rework, and immense waste of time and materials.
Connected technology — uniting people, systems and data in one place — synthesizes communication: It allows for owners to communicate with general contractors, specialty contractors and designers through every part of the construction process; reducing miscommunication and errors that lead to rework, waste and more emissions. Additionally, connected technology provides all-encompassing data that enables teams to approach building projects more informed through every phase of the construction build process. This results in buildings that are more resilient and sustainable, and that emit less carbon.
With legislation quickly developing that would mandate companies to track and reduce their carbon emissions (like the recent Securities and Exchange Commission proposal), companies are under pressure to make drastic changes fast — and, given the dire state of the planet, this makes sense. However, the process of measuring and tracking environmental impact is complex and warrants careful attention and collaboration.
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Two distinctive types of carbon — operational and embodied — play a role in expended energy. Operational carbon addresses the in-use phase of the building; while embodied carbon includes carbon from the manufacture, transportation, and material assembly.
Uniting experts to collaborate on sustainable solutions from across teams and disciplines will optimize sustainability through improved design and construction practices. Connected technology supports this collaboration by uniting key players throughout the entire construction process on one platform.
Tracking and reporting on environmental impact and carbon emissions — which will likely become a requirement in the industry — further drives sustainability into construction. The data that is collected, tracked and analyzed provides insights that ultimately create data-driven, informed decisions. While integrating embodied-carbon tracking and reporting onto connected platforms is a complex feat, it ultimately will transform and revolutionize ESG efforts for the construction industry. Digitizing construction is a vital ESG tactic that will soon become as crucial for owners as tracking and reporting safety, financials and productivity.
The construction industry is not simply defined by the creation of physical buildings; it’s about the people who inhabit these spaces. The built environment provides a place for day-to-day lives to play out — a landing place for community, work and play to converge. This tremendous responsibility has produced remarkable feats of engineering across the globe that daily become cornerstones of human lives. Redefining construction as a climate-conscious industry will require better — and more — data that can be leveraged to guide emission reduction. Construction is in the midst of an important evolution, tasked with optimizing the built world — not solely for the people that inhabit it, but for the wellbeing of the planet, as well.