That’s the Construction Leadership Council’s ambition for the industry and that 2035 goal is in itself merely a step on the way to the UK construction sector’s drive for net zero carbon by 2050. Actually, ‘merely’ is the wrong word – because, let’s face it, if you picture a construction project, large or small, the image of heavy plant and machinery comes to mind: the dump trucks, the diggers, the HGV delivery fleet, the cranes, generators, fork-lifts and more… At the moment, throughout the UK, there are something like 300,000 diesel-fuelled machines working across the building sector – and they’re all pumping carbon into the atmosphere.
Of course some might argue that diesel engines emit less hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide than petrol engines – but that’s beside the point. Even if that were not the case, all the diesel machines have got to go if the industry is to meet that 2035 deadline.
It won’t be easy, though. There’s a reason why the industry favours diesel-powered machinery – they have high energy density that’s hard to match with other energy sources. And, generally speaking, few in the sector know how to move away from diesel – and fewer still are aware of the existence of alternatives.
That’s where the aptly named Construction Leadership Council come in with the CO2nstruct Zero programme. Put together by an impressive panel of experts from right across the industry after extensive consultation, the programme focuses on five key areas, all designed to help constructors work towards the 2035 goal.
You can’t drive down diesel use unless you know exactly how much is currently being used. With that in mind, the Zero Diesel Sites team will be announcing each year’s consumption in order to provide a baseline for reduction in the next
Of course we can’t replace all our plant overnight. But we can reduce consumption by existing machinery. The Zero Diesel Sites team are arranging training and guidance and the use of technology to cut fuel use – as well as an annual competition in which sites compete on their diesel usage savings.
The leading alternative to diesel is hydrogen because it’s clean and powerful. So the Route Map advocates help to support its introduction, along with monitoring other possible alternatives such as biofuels, GTL and LPG to assess their value in cutting emissions.
Although electrical power is accepted as a valuable alternative, whether from the grid or using batteries, there are still obstacles to its wholesale adoption for plant – and the Route Map includes a commitment to their identification and elimination.
The Zero Diesel Team are compiling straightforward guides to help companies develop their own diesel elimination strategies – and they’re also working with government and key industry influencers to ensure that the programme for change is promoted and supported wholeheartedly.
In an imperfect world – and one in which the industry faces a huge range of other challenges – no one is saying that the transition to clean energy will be easy. But there’s no question that it must happen – or that without leadership and guidance, progress will be far too slow.
To find out more about the Zero Diesel Sites Route Map, take a look at the Construction Leadership Council’s website: www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk