As the summers set in with the sweltering heat, poor water supply, and relentless power cuts, one is reminded of how times are getting harder every year. I moved to Bangalore a couple of decades back and remember air conditioners at homes being a rarity. Back then I had heard stories of how in the 50’s and 60’s Bangalore was truly the ‘air-conditioned city’ and even fans were unheard of in households.
As Corporates are warming up to the idea of sustainable development, and CSR and Sustainability strategies get intertwined, we take a close look at the Construction sector, its challenges, and some responsible initiatives that can be adopted to make the world inhabitable for the generations to come. The Construction sector was valued at $400 billion in 2015 and is expected to cross $1 trillion by 2025, to become the 3rd largest in the world after only China and the USA. The Smart City scheme and the AMRUT scheme are poised to develop 500 + cities by 2025. Since construction worldwide, consumes roughly 40% of Earth’s material sources and 30% of its energy, India with its predicted growth rate could be a significant contributor to the problem at hand.
While trying to address the primary concerns of energy, responsible consumption and climate change (UN SDGs 12,7 and 13), one will automatically steer towards the means and mechanisms of managing and sustaining these initiatives. New energy saving systems will need maintenance and servicing, responsible consumption needs wide scale awareness creation and training and likewise. Hence construction companies can look at initiatives that combine their problem areas (such as skilled manpower, productivity and costs which in turn are also in line with SDGs 3,8 and 11) with initiatives that take them towards sustainability.
A couple of measures such as these can be considered:
1 Reducing wastage: Wastage in the construction industry is as high as 30%. This essentially means that as per the current valuation, this could be $100 in waste- in activities translating to manhours, resources and re-usability. Lean practices are emerging in the sector, and if these practices can be scaled up, they can have significant impact on waste reduction. For this, companies must invest in skilling the workforce that they operate with, with contractors getting incentivized for the quality of manpower and learning focus for their groups. Contractors must have their skin in the game with respect to training their workers in order to remain on the preferred list of companies.
2 Use Local: Using locally available material to construct can go a long way in reducing the carbon footprint in India. There are enough technologies to help develop locally procured material into usable inputs. Employing materials that come from naturally occurring elements, that contain recycled content and waste, such as blown paper insulation, or that have been sourced from other building sites, all contribute to help reduce waste. This will not just reduce the carbon footprint but also develop the local economy and reduce costs of transportation. The winning stroke will be to be able to create a community of producer entrepreneurs who are skilled in using waste construction material effectively and providing the construction companies with the right quantum of locally sourced materials.
3 Create Energy Efficient Homes/offices: The construction sector can be an important means of driving behavior change in the user community. Relevant water saving techniques, equipment and plumbing plans, energy saving electrical designs can be incorporated in the master design itself so that users have the flexibility and options of living green. The cost benefit analysis if demonstrated, can fetch a premium price from consumers. However, this will need a lot of awareness campaigns and organisations can use their CSR funds to create shared value awareness campaigns on ‘green living’!
We urge infrastructure, construction and construction ancillary companies such as cement, glass, electrical and tiling companies to come together to push for sustainable growth in the sector jointly by partnering in innovative socially responsible projects!
In this issue, Shrikant Savangikar, Director Sustainability- SKF discusses what it takes to create sustainable social programs, and Construction Sector stalwarts give us nuggets on the trends in the sector.
I hope you find this newsletter informative and as always look forward to your comments and suggestions!
Let lush green please your eyes despite a seemingly dusty, brown summer!
Warm Regards from the Labournet team!
Vice President- CSR and Sustainability Solutions