President Trump promised in his campaign to rebuild America’s infrastructure by investing $1 trillion in the nation’s roads, bridges and airports. Although the Trump administration has yet to release the proposal, construction companies and others who may be contracted for this work are already anticipating it.
While these improvements could be useful for the U.S., such a large-scale project may have a significant impact on the environment in the form of emissions. Contracted companies can play a large role in ensuring these emissions are minimized. Here are six things they can do to protect the environment while working on infrastructure projects.
One way companies working on infrastructure can reduce their emissions is by using cleaner fuels. There are plenty of alternatives available to traditional fossil fuels, including renewable energy and cleaner oil and gas-based fuels.
For construction vehicles, ultra-low sulfur diesel and biodiesel can allow for more environmentally-friendly operations. Although ultra-low sulfur diesel costs a bit more than regular non-road diesel, it reduces emissions and may result in less engine wear, which could lead to long-term savings.
Biodiesel also has a slightly higher initial cost and may result in a slight loss of power. However, most types of emissions and engine wear will be reduced.
Going Hybrid or Electric
If companies want to take cleaner fuel a step further, they can invest in equipment that runs on electricity or a combination of electricity and more traditional fuels.
Electric and hybrid vehicles often have a high upfront cost but lower operating costs. They use power from the electric grid, which is cheaper than fossil fuels and consumes less fuel in general.
Going electric will reduce emissions, but what region the vehicles are used in impacts how much cleaner it runs. This is because different areas have different energy mixes. Some use more solar while others still predominantly use coal. As electric and renewable energy technology progresses, this will likely improve.
Renting eco-friendly equipment is one way companies can reduce their emissions and increase their efficiency. Renting heavy equipment grew by 400 percent in 2014 due to its many advantages. In addition to reducing emissions, it also gives companies the chance to try out products before making a final purchase decision. It makes advanced technologies more readily available to businesses of all sizes.
Another way to reduce emissions through advanced technology without outright purchasing it is to retrofit older equipment with new technologies. Exhaust emission control system can be added or engines can be upgraded to reduce emissions.
While retrofitting or upgrading may not be as effective at reducing emissions as purchasing completely new equipment, it’s certainly more affordable since it can extend the life of engines. These technologies come with an upfront cost, but some of them are eligible for public grant money to help offset the costs.
Keeping Up With Maintenance
Another simple way to reduce emissions is keeping up with regular maintenance. This helps gear run more efficiently, ensures its conforming to requirements and catches mechanical problems early before they cause more serious problems.
For example, the Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) reported that compressed air systems on average require 60 to 100 hours a week of full capacity usage. Using a compressed air system more than this can cause excessive utility costs and wear and tear on your equipment. So how do you prevent this from happening?
To accomplish this, companies only need to track regular maintenance schedules. If there’s not already a system in place for this, they may need to devise or purchase software for tracking it. Conducting regular maintenance has several benefits for the company as well as the environment. Vehicles will use less fuel and last longer, and equipment failure and emissions will be reduced.
Improving Operation Efficiency
By training workers to operate equipment in a more efficient manner, companies can reduce their fuel consumption, emissions and costs.
The exact training differs depending on what machinery is used, but there are training programs available for a wide range of construction and other tools. By reducing idling time, setting creating work modes, progressive shifting and other techniques, workers can use less fuel and operate equipment in a more environmentally-friendly manner.
While improving infrastructure has some benefits, it also comes with risks. If the companies working on infrastructure aren’t cognizant of their emissions and effect on the environment, such projects may result in serious damage to the planet. By using the tactics listed above, along with others, these companies can reduce the impact that this work has on our environment.