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Inside Scoop

Saving fuel and reducing emissions in a construction site

The construction industry is responsible for 23% of global CO2 emissions. According to the Green Construction Board, energy and fuel consumption on construction sites makes up around 33% of total emissions from England’s construction industry. Construction workers are at high risk of health problems as a result of air pollution, as in the 2016/17 period, the CITB reported that approximately 3000 construction workers were undergoing lung and breathing problems, which they thought to be caused or worsened by their occupation. The statistics are clear, and the construction industry must join in with the national drive to reduce air-based emissions if we are to reach targets set out by the government. Here are a few ways in which your construction site could be saving fuel, which will also save you money in the long run.

Reduce vehicle idling

Modern developments in the engines of plant machinery mean that nowadays, starting and shutting down the engine is quick and does not waste fuel. A lot more fuel could be saved if engines were only turned on when required. Excessive idling occurs most often during supply unloading. According to the Centre for Low Emission Construction, a large diesel engine wastes up to one gallon of fuel for each hour it is left idling. Idling not only reduces the engine’s lifespan, but it is also one of the main contributors towards air pollution.

Plan deliveries and travel of workers efficiently in order to not congest the local area

More traffic jams and congestion could lead to vehicles idling for a long time, causing high levels of fuel consumption. Considering various factors such as busy traffic times and roads could reduce the amount of time spent travelling and idling for both locals and workers.

Reduce driving speeds

Whilst driving more slowly not only improves site safety, slower speeds result in a lower rate of fuel consumption. As a result of this, air emissions will also be reduced. Care should also be taken to inspect air filters on a regular basis. If the air filter becomes blocked with dirt and dust particles, the engine is unable to get the required amount of air it needs to operate at optimum efficiency.


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Maintain correct tyre pressure and overall plant condition

Low tyre pressure can negatively affect the fuel efficiency of a machine. Furthermore, low tyre pressure increases rolling resistance, which is the optimal ratio between energy input into the movement, versus various external factors that slow it down. Incorrect tyre pressure could be a major factor in disrupting your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Maintaining your plant in the best shape possible will ensure your vehicle is consuming fuel at a normal capacity. Various issues with components such as fuel injectors may lead to the cylinders being over-fuelled, meaning your machine could be wasting fuel.

Manage hazardous materials

Demolition can also lead to high levels of dust, which results in lower air quality. According to the HSE, “56% of cancer registrations in men are attributable to work in the construction industry (mainly mesotheliomas, lung, bladder and non-melanoma skin cancers)”. Utmost care should be taken when working with hazardous materials to protect the health of workers. High levels of dust and emissions from engines have the potential to create a dangerous environment for workers. The industry has a responsibility to raise awareness in the ways in which exposure to low air quality could be reduced.

Companies in action

As of late 2020, Balfour Beatty are set to reduce carbon emissions on construction sites by up to 80%. In collaboration with Sunbelt and Invisible Systems, Balfour Beatty have developed EcoNet technology in order to manage the power supply in site compounds, consequently reducing wasted fuel and carbon emissions greatly. EcoNet works by optimising power use, as according to Balfour Beatty, EcoNet is “configured to autonomously manage power demand by automatically turning appliances and equipment off when not in active use”. We hope to see more companies taking a similar initiative in order to save fuel and reduce the air pollution caused by the construction industry.

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