More people agree every day that we need to adapt to a greener, more eco-friendly way of working and living.  As of now, going green doesn’t make sense if you’re trying to save a buck.  The green option is typically more expensive than the standard one, for nearly whatever it is that you’re doing. However, there are still companies out there researching and developing new technology so that one day going green can make sense to your wallet. Today, we’re highlighting the companies that are taking strides towards an eco-friendlier construction industry.

            One of the major pollutants on a job site, and frankly the rest of the world, is the emissions from gas-powered machinery. Figuring out the logistics for an alternate type of engine has proven to be a challenge in this space. The UK’s JCB is hard at work, researching alternative fuel sources for these machines.  In 2019, they developed the first fully electric mini excavator.  It has proven to be much quieter than a diesel engine and produces zero emissions.  This is promising, but the technology will still need some sort of major breakthrough in terms of power consumption and reducing the cost to run in order to make it a viable option over a diesel-powered excavator.  More recently, JCB has just finished development of their hydrogen fuel cell excavator. Believe it or not, the only emission from the exhaust on this machine is water.  The logistical issue with a method such as this is that a fuel cell powered with pure hydrogen has eighty percent efficiency in generating electricity. Nevertheless, these are huge steps in the right direction for a greener planet.  Another company from the UK is experimenting with lithium batteries. HS2 is building high speed rails for transportation and are powering their telehandlers with lithium-ion batteries. This ensures that they have zero carbon dioxide emissions.  While lithium batteries are not a perfectly green solution, it is far less harmful to the environment than fossil fuels.

            The building materials themselves are also getting re-thought in order to be more environmentally conscious. One potential solution has gotten a lot of traction in the past year.  That is, the use of recycled plastics for bricks, lumber, cement paste, and more.  A recycled plastic solution could save enough energy to meet the power needs of nearly five million homes in the United States. Netherlands company Inhabitat, has already completed a construction project with some of this new technology.  With recycled plastic bricks, that almost look like LEGO blocks, they have successfully built livable homes in Colombia.  As for lumber, a structural plastic made from recycled milk containers and coffee cups is reportedly “lighter than steel, longer-lasting than traditional lumber, and strong enough to support 120 – ton locomotives”.  We have already used nearly three hundred million pounds of plastic to create lumber used for more than one and a half million railroad ties in the U.S.  This is all plastic that would have otherwise gone to waste. 

The real game changing solutions will be very creative and mostly unexpected. That’s why it’s important for us to take a leap of faith in this department and continue steadfastly. One day soon, solutions for all of our climate-related issues will be made less expensive and a more viable option as compared to fossil fuels and the company which produces them will reap the benefits.   Ensure that you stay well informed and connected with the community by coming back here or to our LinkedIn page often for these free updates.