Johan M. Sanne, a lead researcher in one of four studies carried out in cooperation with the Construction Climate Challenge (CCC), an initiative with the aim of putting climate on top of the agenda in the construction industry, talks about the importance of designing a new business model to reduce CO2 emissions from the use of construction machinery.
Q: Your research suggests “incentives” are required to drive change. Do you have examples of what that might be? And is it predominantly monetary incentives you are talking about?
A: We were thinking both in terms of monetary incentives and in terms of professional pride. We think that monetary incentives are important for companies but also for individuals. That could be, for example, an increase in pay for reducing emissions. There could also be competition among peers or individually over time, which I think is a powerful incentive. Incentives could be based on perfecting personal skills in driving or designing, logistics or even opportunity packages.
Q: What were your main findings in the pre-study?
A: We found that there are a large number of CO2 reduction schemes around but they are not linked or connected efficiently. There are a lot of resources that need to be utilized and put into action.
We believe you need procurement packages and incentives to make a technology work more efficiently to take advantage of what there already is. We also found that operator behavior, the drivers of the machinery, have a salient influence on reducing CO2 emissions. We saw, for example, the difference between comparable machines doing the same kind of work was around 4-7% difference in CO2 emissions, whereas the difference between operators and their CO2 emissions could be as much as 40%.
Q: It’s a difficult question, but if there was one thing that you thought was imperative to change in the construction industry to help reduce CO2 emissions, what would it be?
A: I think it starts with the buyer. The buyers of construction work need to engage with procurement practices that provide both incentives and freedom for entrepreneurs, to innovate and make radical improvements in how they use machinery and how they contract them. I hope to see the big procurers around really making a difference.