Climate change has been a driving force behind many industries’ efforts to “go green,” with an emphasis on sustainability. For the construction industry, this represents a massive investment in infrastructure projects that can have a profound impact.
With these key advances, construction technology is more top-of-mind than ever. It can help create environmentally friendly designs in the early stages, deliver energy efficient structures at completion, and support long term green building goals –all of which are important to meeting regulatory standards and societal expectations.
Here are five core ways going digital with construction management software can help improve the net-zero sustainable outcomes on your next infrastructure project.
1. Reducing wasteful mistakes and defects
Undesirable consequences only come about if somebody finds and fixes the mistake before it depletes resources or harms the environment even more. While this has more to do with procedure than technology, there are two mobile-friendly construction tech options that can help stop environmentally damaging mistakes from happening in the first place: building commissioning software and punch list software.
Construction mistake elimination is more proactive when processes and software are implemented at the start of construction, rather than close to completion. When errors and defects are logged as they’re discovered, they become manageable fixes instead of late-stage major rework items that waste labour and materials resources.
2. Minimising project-related waste
Sustainable materials have various clear advantages over traditional ones when it comes to being eco-friendly —for example, a smaller carbon footprint and less contamination potential. Yet it’s not enough for sustainable materials to only be used in infrastructure projects; there needs to be a decrease in the amount of resource waste created as well. That’s where BIM shines. Its early involvement during an infrastructure project can help reduce construction waste through several means.
By continuing our design and material research, we can explore different digital options before anything physical is constructed. This not only limits waste but also improves quality control during construction. However, it’s the data linked to each BIM model component that takes us even further. For example, each piece of equipment we purchase comes with highly-detailed information like size, quantity, and lifespan. With this level of detail for every component, we can create a more precise procurement list; which leads to less material waste from factors such as over-ordering or incorrect ordering.
BIM also detects design conflicts and potential clashes between objects, so you can avoid rework down the line. With its clash detection capability, BIM identifies interferences before they cause problems in the actual structure. By doing this, you can prevent waste from happening in the first place – meaning less dismantling, materials removal and disposal, and repurchasing of replacement materials to carry out the corrective work.
Different types of waste can originate from different sources during a construction project. Not only does the actual structure generate waste, but the many required documents associated with a long-term infrastructure project produce mountains of paper waste as well. Construction technology that digitalizes various processes related to documentation – such as estimates, timesheets, drawings, contracts, compliance documents daily reports and checklists – drastically reduces paperwork and therefore cuts down on demand for more paper products.
3. Environmental regulatory guidelines and compliance
Not only does a building have to function as it’s supposed to, but it also needs to be eco-friendly. “Green building” encompasses activities done out of environmental awareness or compliance with regulations. Substantial documentation is often required to show that a project meets these standards.
Construction companies are using construction-specific compliance software for documentation instead of clipboard in order to ensure regulatory adherence. If an inspection occurs and something is not up to code, it can be noted in the online form so that the software can notify project team members about what needs attention.
This strategy can be done in parallel with commissioning and punch lists; it involves documenting how environmental compliance was managed from the very beginning up until handover. In addition, this provides the justification you need to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
4. Creating healthy internal building environments
Although most people believe that being eco-friendly is only about saving the planet, it is also crucial for those who spend time inside of the building.
Design and construction practices play an important role in how well a building filters air. The materials used in construction can significantly affect the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in indoor air. VOCs are emitted from common building materials such as paints, sealants, and adhesives. If these VOCs are not properly filtered out of the enclosed space, they can cause health problems such as headaches or allergic reactions.
BIM’s process of designing systems and exploring materials helps to create more sustainable buildings that are energy efficient and promote health, wellbeing, and indoor air quality. These processes also allow you to experiment with ways to make the best use of natural lighting, ventilation, cleaner materials, and even the outdoor environment. Commissioning software is vital as it safeguarded not just individuals during installation but also once the integrated whole is set up. It does this by regularly checking that everything from the ventilation to the electrical components are functioning properly.
5. Exploration of more sustainable designs and materials
It might help to think of infrastructure projects as having a reciprocal relationship with their environment. Using 3D modeling processes known as building information modeling (BIM), design teams are able to take a multifaceted approach to designing with that relationship in mind. With BIM, designers can simulate how a structure will interact with its surroundings, helping to create more efficient and effective buildings.
When you utilize BIM’s virtual 3D viewing in combination with augmented reality, it gives teams an enhanced image of how a proposed structure will appear and if it will work well within its given surroundings. Additionally, this allows for the design to decrease any negative impact on the landscape or other structures nearby. Simultaneously, you can capitalize on positive aspects that come from the location itself- such as wind patterns and renewable energy sources- to make your overall construction more energy efficient.
Materials exploration is a key part of the design process, and with so much existing infrastructure in various states of deterioration and disrepair, it has highlighted the need for more purposeful choices in materials that not only can withstand the test of time, but are sustainable, safer for the environment and responsibly sourced. BIM provides design and construction teams an opportunity to assess material attributes closely, as they test eco-friendly resources that are more durable for their infrastructure projects. It allows them see how materials will affect the performance of a structure overall, as well as how those same materials will stand up over time in different conditions.
The phrase “green building” is no longer a buzzword but rather a standard practice for engineering, construction companies, and large-scale builders. Construction technology not only allows these groups to be proactive in making their infrastructure projects greener but also provides transparency to their processes for project owners as well as regulators and the general public.
Looking to be more environmentally friendly with your projects while still meeting client expectations? PlanRadar can help. Schedule a free PlanRadar product demo today and learn more about how we can assist you.