How can the construction industry reduce carbon emissions?
Currently, the construction industry accounts for 38% of the total global emissions with buildings being built every week. However, despite this, less than 1% of these structures are tested for carbon emissions.
The report contained six buildings as case studies and found that, per square metre, the whole-life carbon footprint was around 1,800 kilograms of CO2 equivalent. Half of all emissions are embodied in buildings, meaning they are caused by the manufacturing of materials and the construction process, the report said.
The report, published by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, says that there are around 255bn square metres of buildings in the world, with 5.5bn being added every year. That is the equivalent of a city the size of Paris being built every week.
It was also discovered that 70% of embodied emissions are caused by just six materials. While it doesn’t mention exactly what those materials are, the report does conclude that cement, which is a key ingredient in concrete, is responsible for an estimated 8% of all emissions. So how can the construction industry improve this?
Reduce building emissions by half
"To get the construction industry on track to reach global climate targets, all companies need to start measuring the full carbon footprint of their real estate assets," said Roland Hunziker, sustainable buildings director at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
"The report shows that if all parties in the building value chain collaborate and focus on whole-life carbon emissions reductions, we can start setting this important sector on a path towards net-zero”, he added.
With the industry producing 14 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year, the current goals are for this to be reduced by half by 2030 and zero by 2050.
An understanding of net-zero
One of the easiest ways to help reduce carbon emissions is to understand what net-zero emissions are, and the report emphasises that the industry needs to adopt a clear definition of it. If construction companies understand them, then they can work towards achieving them. While this is difficult due to there being no recognised standard for net-zero, it is possible. "We recognise making this accessible is a challenge, but equally this is a technical area and there is a risk of oversimplifying”, said Diane Millis, Communications Manager at The Carbon Trust.
"Many companies and organisations are only just beginning to understand [that] net-zero is fundamentally different to carbon neutrality so there is a lot of information out there that isn’t accurate, unfortunately”.
To qualify as net-zero, a building must not add any new greenhouse gases to the atmosphere either through its construction, operation, or demolition.
Seafarms begins construction of Project Sea Dragon
Seafarms, an aquaculture company based in Australia, has started the first phase of construction of Project Sea Dragon, a project which initially aims to produce 6,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns every year.
The contract for the project, worth US$78mn, was awarded to the construction company Canstruct, which has begun work on Seafarms’ Legune Station grow-out facility, Bynoe Breeding Facility, and Exmouth Founder Stock Centre. The company is also planning to establish the first black tiger prawn farm, consisting of 36 ten-hectare ponds, 36 one-hectare nursery ponds, and the channels to supply and discharge them.
There will also be four seawater intake pumps, which can move around 7,000 litres of water per second. These pumps are due to be installed late next year.
The progress of Project Sea Dragon so far
Seafarms says that the first 21 buildings at Legune Station which are needed for the accommodation village have been transported to the site. Work packages at the Bynoe Harbour Breeding Facility and the Exmouth Founder Stock Centre allowing for the engineering of buildings and utilities have been granted and work for this is expected to commence in September this year, the company said.
In addition, the Western Australian Government has pledged US$13.5mn in sponsorship to seal Moonamang Road, a road in Kununurra. The sponsorship continues to be advanced and will provide a complete all-weather sealed road from Kununurra to the Legune Station boundary. This will allow Seafarms to transport from where they will be grown and harvested at Legune to Kununurra.
Similar projects: EX Venture’s seaweed farm
In March this year, EX Venture planned to establish an automated, open ocean seaweed farm in the Southeastern region of Nusa Lembongan in Bali. The company received funding for the project from the German government which proposed a three-year tenure for implementation.
The aim of the project was to improve conventional seaweed farming using technology and automation, as well as revolutionary farming methods. This would increase seaweed production and decrease the time it takes to harvest it. The farm would also help to improve marine ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as create healthy nursery grounds for young fish.