How the Scandinavian countries are implementing carbon-free construction: the example of Oslo

    10 Aug 2021

    In the center of Oslo, a construction project was implemented using electrical equipment. Now the authorities are trying to decarbonize the entire construction process.

    In Scandinavian countries, construction sites are created with zero-waste. All equipment – tractors, excavators, and loaders – electric. For the first time, such a project was implemented on a construction site in the center of Oslo, Norway – Olav Vs gate, the BBC states.

    Construction in Oslo began in 2019, turning a busy street into a pedestrian zone. Locals enthusiastically responded to the silent equipment.

    “I looked at these giant excavators, which are usually associated with smoke, noise, and general irritation. But when the operator launched them, I couldn’t tell if it was on or not, “said Mark Preston Aragones, an employee of the environmental organization.

    Oslo aims to become a world leader in the decarbonization of the construction industry. When using electrical equipment instead of traditional, citizens noticed a decrease in noise and pollution. In addition, it has improved working conditions on the construction site.

    Currently, the construction sector alone accounts for more than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The impact of construction is even more evident when you look at CO2 emissions from energy use – this sector accounts for 38% of global emissions. In Oslo, on the other hand, construction accounts for 7% of the city’s total emissions. 98% of Norway’s electricity grid consists of renewable energy sources, mainly hydropower, making Norway an ideal testing ground for environmentally friendly technology.

    The Olav Vs gate pilot project saved 35,000 liters of diesel fuel and 92.5 kilograms of CO2 compared to conventional equipment. This is equivalent to removing 20 cars from the road during the year.

    Local authorities want all municipal construction sites to have zero emissions by 2025 and public and private – by 2030. Norway’s six other major cities have recently made such a commitment.

    The Olav Vs gate pilot project demonstrates to the industry that emission-free construction is possible and should become the future standard. Up to 20 such projects are expected to appear in Oslo shortly.

    However, electrical equipment can be two or three times more expensive than traditional. In addition, some cities find it difficult to obtain the required amount of energy to supply electric machines. The environmental organization Bellona claims that expensive equipment can pay off.

    “You don’t have to pay for diesel, and the electricity consumed is much cheaper. Therefore, you will save much more during the implementation of such a project. Electric machines have other advantages, such as the ability to work late at night or early in the morning, because they produce less noise,” – explained the organization.

    When switching to environmentally friendly construction, you can use battery systems. This was recently tested in Hong Kong. Ampd Enertainer is an advanced compact battery system capable of replacing diesel generators. In total, the city uses 18 such techniques. Mainly for cranes, hoists, welding, and any other construction equipment. The company claims that the device can reduce carbon emissions by 85%.

    Another innovation aimed at increasing efficiency and reducing waste is the modular design. The process is that the building or its parts are built outside the site, which gives its advantages. Many prefabricated elements are often used in Scandinavian countries. This is a trend that actually reduces waste.

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