Work Speeds Ahead on Replacing Century-Old Bridges With Tunnel

How Energy-Efficient Equipment Is Changing the Industry in 2016

Wed May 18, 2016 - National Edition
Megan Wild

Once viewed as a highly toxic business, most of the major players in the building and construction sector are now taking a proactive stance toward environmental protection in 2016.
Once viewed as a highly toxic business, most of the major players in the building and construction sector are now taking a proactive stance toward environmental protection in 2016.

With all the focus on energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction as of late, it should come as no surprise that the construction industry is taking notice. Once viewed as a highly toxic business, most of the major players in the building and construction sector are now taking a proactive stance toward environmental protection in 2016.

Embracing the Greening Initiative

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP, the building and construction industry accounts for as much as 30 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, buildings in use today account for up to 40 percent of all global energy resources.

Historically viewed as a major contributor to environmental pollution and waste, the entire industry is making a change for the better. In fact, much of the heavy equipment used in construction today, including forklifts, excavators, cranes and more, has become more energy-efficient. Some of the world's most prolific manufacturers, including Caterpillar, Liebherr and Doosan Construction Equipment, have all developed environmentally friendly construction vehicles and equipment.

What to Look for When Purchasing or Renting Green Equipment

There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing and even renting green construction equipment for your business. Apart from the sale price and your intended usage, including the frequency of use, you'll want to take other things into account. Consider any required licensure, specialized training and even long-term costs of storage and maintenance if you plan on making an outright buy.  

If you are considering purchasing used equipment, make sure to do your research beforehand. A quick internet search can yield plenty of information regarding the pros and cons of specific equipment or brands, information on upcoming developments and even a comprehensive listing of all the options that are available to you.

Furthermore, it's always a good idea to have a mechanic check out any new or used construction equipment before finalizing a purchase. Construction equipment that features green or environmentally friendly technology can be especially tricky to diagnose and repair, so it's critical that you find a mechanic who specializes in energy efficient and environmentally friendly equipment.  

Using Green Equipment on the Jobsite

Although it's a huge step in the right direction, the simple act of purchasing environmentally friendly construction equipment doesn't immediately make you an environmentally conscious company. In fact, there are a number of steps you should take to ensure your green equipment is being used appropriately and to its greatest effect.

First, you’ll want to consider the amount of fuel and resources used when transporting heavy construction equipment to and from the jobsite. While you may be able to cut down on some of these costs by leaving such equipment on-site during extended projects, equipment that is intended to handle different tasks at multiple jobsites on a daily basis, or equipment that is frequently transported between jobs, may end up causing more pollution than it actually saves.

You'll also want to take a look at the specific construction materials you are using on a day-to-day basis. Some of the older construction materials, which once contained potentially harmful or hazardous materials, have been updated and reformulated to make them more healthy and environmentally friendly. As such, it's just as important to use green building materials as it is to use green equipment in the construction industry today.

Finally, try to implement new methods for cutting back on waste, reusing and recycling on the jobsite. Larger pieces of scrap can, in some cases, be used elsewhere on the job. This can also help cut down on the overall costs of materials, as well as the time spent cutting and disposing of construction materials in the end.

If you absolutely cannot reuse or recycle your unwanted or leftover construction materials, make sure to locate the appropriate disposal facility. The disposal of some materials, particularly chemical-based adhesives, solvents and even latex paint, is heavily regulated.

Taking the First Step Toward Greening

The process of embracing green construction equipment and adapting to new and evolving environmental standards can be a difficult task to undertake. This is especially true for those who are used to building with certain equipment, familiar with a specific set of materials or accustomed to following their own set of rules and standards. However, adjusting your day-to-day operations in order to accommodate the new wave of environmental protection initiatives may very well be essential to your future success.

Megan Wild is a residential home construction writer, who has her own blog dedicated to home improvement and decor. When she isn’t spending all of her money on paint or nails, you can find her tweeting @Megan_Wild.