Technology is Key to Reducing Carbon Footprint of Construction Sector

Technology is Key to Reducing Carbon Footprint of Construction Sector

Exclusive interview with Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Trimble Solutions - Middle East and India

One of the most polluting industries is construction which also consumes a large quantity of natural resources on earth. Besides, the air quality at construction sites and demolitions is infamous for its high concentration of pollutants, endangering respiratory health of people around those.

However, by implementing state-of-the-art technologies, pollution level and energy consumption of the construction sector can be reduced to a great extent, said Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Trimble Solutions - Middle East and India.

"Technology can be used in several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry. The use of technology allows us to create environmentally sustainable systems and replace traditional practices with the same," said Mr Wallet, in an exclusive interview with Sustainability Middle East.

Below are the excerpts of Mr Wallet's interview with SME...

Q. What is Trimble's idea of adopting best practices for Sustainability?

A. Since early years of life, we have all been taught the importance of sustainability and how it enhances our quality of life, while safeguarding the environment and protecting natural resources for future generations. Today, a growing number of businesses worldwide have voluntarily adopted and implemented a wide range of sustainability practices in recent years. At Trimble, we feel a responsibility towards controlling how we conduct our operations, particularly in the construction industry, which has the highest carbon footprint. Similarly, Trimble’s technology is also designed to connect the physical and digital spheres to enable teams to operate more efficiently and sustainably. Trimble's 40-year journey, serving some of the most crucial sectors around the world, has taught the company how to innovate to meet the shifting needs of the society and planet through advanced digital solutions.

Q. Construction/demolition is a sector which contributes to pollution significantly. How does Trimble add value to this sector for cutting down on pollutants?

A. The production of solid waste, particularly construction waste, has significantly increased in the Middle Eastern countries over the last few decades. This is distinguished by a variety of factors, including rapid urbanisation. As a construction solutions provider, we have an important role to play in the industry, such as investing in sustainability, and applying our human capital and financial capital wisely to produce positive and long-term outcomes. In order to meet the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement and move towards a net-zero future that would limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5C, we have also set new goals and made a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, Trimble's technologies are also developed to drive sustainable operations. For instance, Tekla Structures and Tekla Structural Designer offer dynamic embodied carbon calculation functionality, for both the design and detailing processes, through an Embodied Carbon Calculator. The tool enables users to assess the environmental implications of their design choices in real time within the Tekla software. It can be used by structural engineers to compare different design options and their associated carbon loads, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of the effects of their design. Additionally, Trimble's emission reduction targets were approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a coalition of the CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute, and the World Wide Fund for Nature, allowing the company to join a growing number of businesses taking immediate action to combat climate change.

Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Trimble Solutions - Middle East and India
Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Trimble Solutions - Middle East and India

Q. Please tell us more about Trimble's latest Sustainability Report, and the company's net-zero targets?

A. The latest Sustainability Report highlights how Trimble is committed to the following actions, as part of its Science-Based Targets to accelerate decarbonisation throughout the value chain. Among these commitments are 50 per cent reduction in absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, 100 per cent annual sourcing of renewable electricity by 2025, as well a reduction in absolute scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions from fuel and energy-related activities, business travel, and upstream transportation and distribution by 50 per cent by 2030. The company also emphasises its commitment to partner with 70 per cent of its suppliers on emissions covering purchased goods and services, as well as capital goods to set science-based targets by 2026.

Q. The Middle East is a construction-intensive region. What are your plans/ special focus for countries here, if any?

A. Over the past many years of our continued presence in the Middle East, particularly in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Trimble technologies have played a significant role in getting major and mega projects designed, engineered, efficiently built and delivered on time. Our state-of-the-art digital construction technology solutions such as Constructible BIM, Connected Construction, Augmented Reality, Cloud-based collaboration, Digital Twins and more, have played a significant role in making this possible, and we will continue provide these advancements to drive success for upcoming projects. Some of our notable works where our solutions have been widely used include the Museum of the Future, Burj Khalifa, Riyadh metro, Ain Dubai, The Dubai Opera House, Coca-Cola Arena, Midfield Airport, Sharjah Monument, UAE Expo Pavilion, National Museum of Qatar and Riyadh Metro besides several others. With the region continuing to impress the world with innovative and sustainable construction marvels, we also look forward to working on many more technologically advanced projects and offering our solutions to help the construction industry build sustainably and efficiently.

Q. How can technology help in driving sustainable practices effectively?

A. Technology can be used in several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry. The use of technology allows us to create environmentally sustainable systems and replace traditional practices with the same. Using advanced design and engineering software, it is possible to predict a building's operational performance even before it is built, reducing rework, avoiding mistakes and increasing productivity.

Effective collaboration can help tackle a major portion of the waste produced by the construction industry. With the help of the connected construction solutions, designers and contractors can collaborate sooner to resolve any issues with the environment and other miscommunication before beginning a project. Similarly, cloud-based common data environment (CDE) solutions give stakeholders the opportunity to collaborate on construction data to resolve design conflicts, identify on-site challenges, and gather data intelligence, resulting in a reduction of material usage and fuel waste, as well as lowering workers' safety risks.

During the construction of the Museum of the Future, various project teams used multiple solutions from Trimble. Trimble Connect was used as the Common Data Environment (CDE), Trimble’s SysQue was used for the intricate MEP design, Tekla Structures proved helpful in designing the building’s highly complex structure and Robotic Total Stations were used for the automated on-site layout. The use of modern Trimble solutions helped reduce the rework by up to 65%, a 50% productivity boost and a 25% total energy consumption reduction.

Q. What would be your advice to stakeholders in the construction sector, for adopting 'Green' practices?

A. It is no longer sufficient to just use green materials and energy-efficient mechanical systems. Construction industry must adopt new technologies like BIM, Digital Twins, Connected Construction, AI, machine learning, and mixed reality, as well as raise awareness of sustainability in order to lessen its adverse environmental impact. Technology can obviously be expensive, but it is also crucial to think of it as a long-term investment. In line with this vision, Trimble offers a subscription business model for companies that find it difficult to adopt new technology. This allows companies to access our software technology and plan their budget without having to worry about costs. For instance, our Tekla Structures, Sketchup, MEP solutions, and even Trimble Platform as a Service tools, which include hardware, software, and maintenance of both, offer subscription models including technical support, upgrades, and other fixes. Moreover, Trimble has made its solutions more affordable to industry stakeholders and professionals, enabling them to take advantage of new technology more efficiently.

Q. Please mention any additional noteworthy achievements of Trimble.

A. Notably in 2022, Trimble’s annualised recurring revenue reached a record USD 1.60 billion, an increase of 16 per cent on an organic basis over the previous year, while its overall revenue grew by 7 per cent organically to USD 3,676.3 million from the prior year. The company’s GAAP and non-GAAP operating incomes reached USD 510.9 million and USD 841.5 million, respectively, which was a record full year GAAP gross margin of 57.3 percent and record non-GAAP gross margin of 60.0 percent. Adjusted EBITDA was $917.3 million, which was 25.0 percent of revenue. Record revenue annualized recurring revenue, and gross margins in 2022 demonstrate progression of our Connect and Scale strategy. We move ahead in 2023 with resolve to continue executing our strategy while navigating macroeconomic uncertainties.

Read More: Trimble Commits to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 50% by 2030

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