When it comes to transportation, rising gas prices should be the least of the world’s worries. If the status quo continues, emissions, congestion, and safety problems will only intensify, and climate change will continue to create dire consequences across the globe.
People own more cars and drive more miles than ever before. Both governments worldwide and consumer demand are fueling interest in a future where electric vehicles are the norm. It might surprise many to learn that the construction industry also has a role to play. As one of the top producers of carbon emissions, the construction industry is beginning to embrace an electric future—in terms of both the planning and design of projects with integrated EV charging stations and the vehicles construction crews use in their day-to-day operations.
Read on to learn more about how it’s not just the automotive industry that’s moving toward an electric future but also the construction industry.
The Automotive Industry’s Future is Electric
Governments worldwide are answering the calls for a carbon-free future by introducing regulations that define more stringent emission targets. For example, in the European Union, the adoption of the “Fit for 55” program seeks to transform transportation through taxation policies aimed at reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
In the US, the Biden administration has also pushed for a carbon-free future by introducing a 50% electric vehicle target for 2030. In addition, the US is offering EV subsidies to offset the cost for consumers who are making the switch.
At the local level, cities are making efforts to reduce private vehicle use and congestion on the roadways by encouraging other modes of transportation, especially bicycles. For example, in Paris, $300 million has been set aside to update the city’s bicycle network and transform 50 kilometers of car lanes into bike lanes. Other urban areas worldwide are also adjusting access regulations for cars, with over 150 European cities adopting access regulations for low emissions and pollution emergencies.
Consumer attitudes are also fueling the shift to a carbon-free future as people adopt alternative transportation methods. Shared e-bike and e-scooter use has risen dramatically in cities around the world. Consumers also embrace shared mobility options, with demand for ride-pooling services increasing. While private vehicle ownership won’t be a thing of the past anytime soon, there’s never-before-seen interest in electric vehicles to ensure a carbon-free future.
The Chicken and the Egg Dilemma: An Opportunity for the Construction Industry
As cities around the world embrace a future where electric vehicles are the norm, the construction industry must answer the call to create a robust infrastructure to support this massive change. Now, builders need to consider the future of EV tech in the planning and development of every project.
Like those proposed by the EU and the US, Reaching ambitious goals requires charging stations at workplaces, homes, apartments, and public spaces. Builders must be forward-thinking to enable these EV goals. There’s a move toward changing building codes with an eye to requiring charging infrastructure in all new construction. They also need to address the challenges of a growing demand for charging infrastructure in existing buildings, especially offices, retail spaces, and multi-family buildings.
As with anything related to construction, EV infrastructure won’t be built in a day. The expertise of electricians, planners, general contractors, and many others is required to develop an EV charging network that can meet the projected demand for charging and promote the increased adoption of eco-friendly vehicles.
Sustainability Starts at Home
The construction industry itself must adapt, too. Construction teams need to lead the charge when it comes to EV adoption, as more and more EVs have been heading off the road and onto the job site. Building and construction accounts for 38% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, with needless fuel burn being just one of the culprits. Heavy equipment like wheel loaders and excavators are becoming available in electric models, significantly reducing carbon emissions on every project and promoting a sustainable future for the industry.
There are significant benefits at play to incentivize construction teams to make the switch to an electric future. They include:
- Equipment advances. As technology improves and EVs become the norm in the construction industry, advances in equipment can help other EVs and vice versa. Volvo has recently launched a venture to promote innovation in batteries and charging infrastructure. While their efforts are focused on moving the trucking industry towards EV adoption, the advancements they’ve made help construction EVs, too.
- Societal impacts. The threat of climate change is ever-present, and it impacts the health of life all over the globe. It’s a threat to our living spaces and even our livelihoods. Since construction accounts for so much of the world’s carbon emissions, moving toward a fully electric future on the job site can significantly reduce emissions and lead to healthier lives.
- Better operation. Diesel-powered machines are loud—and they’re constantly vibrating when in use. Without the diesel engine, electric machines produce much less noise pollution and much less machine vibration, not to mention no exhaust fumes. These reductions have a net positive on the local environment and sustainable building efforts as a whole
The benefits of electric vehicles on the construction site have rippling effects on people, profits, and the planet. For those developers concentrating on the Triple Bottom Line, these are the critical areas of focus when it comes to safe, profitable, and sustainable construction.
Building a More Sustainable Future
The threat of climate change affects all life around the planet. So it’s up to everyone to do their part for the environment, whether that means taking a bike to work, carpooling, or investing in an electric vehicle to reduce carbon emissions.
All industries, particularly the construction industry, must also answer the call for a sustainable future. Builders and contractors can work to integrate sustainable technologies like charging stations into the design of buildings and infrastructure planning. They can also promote sustainability in their own operations, and embracing EVs is just one way to do that.
Want to learn more about the role of EVs as the next generation of American infrastructure comes to fruition? Interested in exploring other sustainable construction trends that are changing the way we build? Check out Sandbox Development Consultants’ current projects and read more about how we’re building with a mind for the future.