Are virtual site visits the key to a net zero construction sector?

Tuesday, 21 November, 2023

Are virtual site visits the key to a net zero construction sector?

Almost all (95%) construction, engineering and property (CEP) business leaders in Australia say that decarbonisation and emissions reduction is central to their organisation’s overall sustainability agenda, compared to just 86% of those from all other sectors, according to research commissioned by aerial technology company Nearmap.

The construction industry alone is one of Australia’s largest industries, responsible for approximately 9% of the country’s GDP. However, the built environment sector has a disproportionate amount of greenhouse emissions — reportedly being responsible for one-quarter of Australia’s emissions. This presents a significant opportunity for the industry to lead in achieving net zero carbon for Australian buildings, and it could be a reality by 2040, as laid out in a guide produced by UNSW Sydney.

According to Nearmap, location intelligence technology tools that enable virtual site visits have the potential to help reduce carbon emissions, eg, cutting just two physical site visits each day that would normally require one hour of travel time can have a significant impact. Nearmap estimates that companies can potentially reduce up to 5280 kg of carbon emissions and save up to AU$34,100 a year.

The company’s research found that while 93% of CEP leaders believe technologies such as aerial imagery and geospatial analytics can help reduce carbon emissions and achieve sustainability goals, the reported usage of technology across the sector is currently only 75%. Barriers to adoption include limited awareness and understanding of available technologies (60%); lack of technology tools and solutions (57%); and financial constraints (56%).

The technologies deemed most useful by leaders from the CEP sector in helping reduce carbon emissions or achieving sustainability goals were:

  • Environmental impact assessment and monitoring tools (57%).
  • Geospatial analytics and insights powered by AI (49%).
  • Advanced measurement and measurement tools (47%).
  • High-resolution aerial imagery of areas across Australia (45%).

“It is encouraging to see that 93% of CEP business leaders believe technology can help reduce emissions — particularly as there has long been a misconception that deep technical or geospatial knowledge is needed to implement solutions that can help companies meet decarbonisation goals,” said Daniel Paull, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Nearmap Australia and New Zealand.

“The power of making simple changes like switching to virtual site visits should not be underestimated — understanding this will help overcome the barriers to adoption identified by the research and lift usage of technologies that can help contribute to a greener future for all.”

Nearmap’s white paper ‘Decarbonising Australia’s Built World with Technology’ can be accessed here.

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