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Building a greener future

by Madaline Dunn

Technology can address the most pressing challenges facing construction companies, writes Ishita Sood, Co-Founder of WakeCap. In the wake of COP28, the construction technology leader says that now is the time to shine a spotlight on making construction more sustainable.

The International Energy Agency reports that construction contributes to 36% of the global energy demand and is responsible for 40% of worldwide energy and process-related emissions. Construction has not, historically, been known for being very green.

At COP28, which took place in Dubai, there was a renewed and urgent call for world leaders to work together to advance the climate agenda. To curb global warming, emissions must be reduced by half by 2030, a goal that must be achieved within the next seven years.

With the construction industry likewise facing increasing scrutiny when it comes to its ESG credentials, it is the collective responsibility of all parties to work for a better today and tomorrow and technology’s role has never been more pivotal.

In order to stay competitive and sustainable, construction firms must address their efforts on two fronts: effecting meaningful change, and measuring it effectively and accurately. Investors are increasingly looking at the ESG credentials of businesses and considering ‘sustainability’ as an important part of their portfolio thanks to improved risk management, greater transparency and better returns. According to a recent study by Sustainable Square and MEIRA, 51% of sustainability conversations in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) are taking place at the boardroom level. Moreover, 76% of GCC companies have observed a notable shift in consumer preferences towards businesses that align with ESG standards.

Construction companies need to optimize planning, executing, and validating ESG strategies, to benefit their investors, stakeholders and communities. From the master-planning of construction projects, to ensuring workforce wellbeing, along with the ESG measuring itself, technology is playing an increasingly significant and crucial role in achieving the objectives set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that outline how public and private entities can work towards a more sustainable future.

At WakeCap, founded in 2017 and now present in UAE, Saudi Arabia and San Francisco, we have always believed that technology should be a force for good. We work closely with leading developers to improve KPIs on sites, from safety, wastage, attendance, cost savings, resource allocation, and more.

Greener tech: Internet of Things 

Increasingly, IoT (Internet of Things) devices and sensors are being integrated into buildings to monitor and control energy usage in real-time. This includes smart lighting, HVAC systems, and automated energy management systems that optimise energy consumption. Their application also applies to the process of construction itself. Our wearable tech allows site owners and managers to understand exactly what is going on at their site. The smart hard-hat solution we have developed works by making a site completely connected. We achieved a world first in 2018 at Emaar’s Opera Grand Tower Project in Downtown Dubai when the project became the largest connected construction site in the world. The project saw WakeCap tech implemented in a groundbreaking initiative that garnered industry-wide interest at the time and demonstrated how construction projects could benefit from streamlining their process thanks to better visibility and transparency via data collection.

As a company passionate about making construction better, we’re excited about many of the emerging and more established solutions that are increasingly being adopted on sites.

Wearable technology 

Construction workers can benefit from wearable devices that monitor health and safety metrics. This includes sensors that detect environmental hazards, smart helmets, and devices that alert to unusual movements such as a fall.

Materials tracking systems

Technology can help to track and trace the sourcing of materials, ensuring they meet sustainable and ethical standards. Blockchain, for example, can be used for transparent and traceable supply chains.

Building information modeling (BIM)

BIM technology creates 3D models that allow stakeholders to see and improve building designs before construction begins. This helps in making more sustainable design decisions, including energy-efficient building layouts and material selections. 

Renewable energy integration 

The construction sector can leverage technology to incorporate renewable energy solutions such as solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage systems into building designs. 

Data analytics and reporting 

Technology enables efficient collection, analysis, and reporting of data, including ESG-related data. This includes monitoring and reporting on carbon emissions, water usage, and social impact metrics. Data data visualization tools can help stakeholders understand and communicate the environmental and social impact of construction projects, improving transparency and accountability.

The role of technology is indispensable in imrpoving sustainability; I would say the two are inseparable as we progress toward achieving global goals for reducing carbon emissions. I anticipate that the growing demand for transparency and accuracy in information will drive significant innovation. This resonates with WakeCap, as firsthand experiences have demonstrated how enhanced and highly precise data can revolutionize a company’s efficiency, processes, and financial performance. As we approach the 2030 deadline, an inevitable surge in the call for transparency, especially in emissions, is on the horizon.

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