Green engineering - the key to decarbonising India’s infrastructure push

  • Articles
  • Feb 05,24
The growth of construction equipment industry in India has been accompanied by environmental concerns arising from fuel consumption, emissions, and the ecological impact of construction activities, says Shalabh Chaturvedi while explaining the role of green engineering in the construction equipment industry.
Green engineering - the key to decarbonising India’s infrastructure push

India is in the midst of an unprecedented infrastructure push, as it is completely focused on transforming itself from an emerging economy into a developed superpower. Starting from roads and ports to business parks, intra-city transport networks and airports, the country is on its way to have the infrastructure framework ready for the future.

At the same time, the country is gearing up to hit the net-zero mark by 2070. The construction equipment industry in India has witnessed substantial growth in recent years, driven by rapid urbanisation and infrastructure projects. However, this expansion has been accompanied by environmental concerns arising from fuel consumption, emissions, and the ecological impact of construction activities. The country is evolving with experiences with not only its technical assets, but also with its new goal of reduction of greenhouse emissions.

Contribution of green engineering
Infrastructural developments have often created a negative impact on the environment, starting from pollution to waste generation, deforestation and so on. Notably, these consequences have been taken into consideration as the time went by. When construction equipment comes to the scene, green manufacturing or green engineering has already taken the stage.

Green engineering in the construction industry is gaining prominence as the sector recognises its significant contribution to global carbon emissions. A substantial 37 per cent of worldwide CO? emissions stem from construction, with 16 per cent attributed to embodied carbon from material sourcing, manufacturing, logistics, and construction activities. Emissions in the construction equipment value chain are distributed across Scope 1 (Direct emission: 3 per cent to 5 per cent), Scope 2 (Indirect emission: 3 per cent to 5 per cent), and notably, Scope 3 (95 per cent to 97 per cent), emphasising the industry's broader responsibility. Over 80 per cent of emissions occur during the operational lifespan of these products, urging a commitment to innovative engineering solutions.

The Indian construction equipment sector is embracing green engineering practices, integrating renewable energy solutions like solar and wind into manufacturing operations and supply chains. Investments in solar panels and green infrastructure aim to reduce carbon footprints and align growth with India's renewable energy targets. The government's initiatives, like Electricity Rules 2022 and the Indian carbon market, provide regulatory frameworks and incentives for sustainability. Waste co-processing is also a focus, underscoring the commitment to minimising the environmental impact and fostering a circular economy in the construction sector.

Green engineering: Adoption and benefits
Green engineering is crucial for India's construction equipment sector to contribute sustainably to infrastructure development. It minimises environmental footprint through lightweight materials and modular components, boosting efficiency and reducing fuel consumption. Adapting green fuels holds the promise of ushering in a transformative era for our global energy landscape. By shifting away from traditional fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives, we can significantly mitigate the impact of climate change. Green fuels, derived from renewable sources, contribute to a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, fostering a cleaner and healthier environment. Beyond environmental benefits, embracing these fuels also bolsters energy security, promotes technological innovation, and creates employment opportunities, driving economic growth. These transitions not only aligns with global efforts to combat climate change but also position societies for long-term sustainability, resilience, and more diversified and secure energy future. This fosters a sustainable, inclusive society, job creation, and environmental stewardship for future generations.

Use of alternative fuel
Various construction equipment manufacturers, are piloting the use of machinery with alternative fuel such as methane or hydrogen, which aligns to the submission of the country. Hybridisation and electrification are other solutions that can help reduce emissions and can prove to be a game-changer for the industry. Electrically powered machinery and hybrid systems will not only reduce dependence on fossil fuels but also lead to quieter and eco-friendlier construction sites.

Exploring cleaner energy sources, in addition to cleaning up the sector’s footprint, can also unleash innovation. While full-scale electrification is becoming more feasible for passenger cars and intra-city public transportation, it may still be some years away for the construction equipment industry. Hybridisation is also at a developing stage. Implementing advanced solutions and alternative technologies can enable construction equipment manufacturers to stay ahead of the curve in the global construction equipment market. 

Electricity as an alternative fuel
Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining prominence in transportation, offering cleaner, more sustainable alternatives, reducing air pollution and reliance on fossil fuels. This alternate can be applied to diverse industries, including residential and commercial buildings, industrial processes, and even in construction sector. 

In terms of economic benefits, electrification can contribute to job creation and economic growth. The development, manufacturing, and maintenance of electric vehicles and related infrastructure generate employment opportunities. Unlike fossil fuels, electricity can be generated from a variety of sources, including renewables, reducing dependence on geopolitically sensitive regions for energy supply. Governments and businesses investing in electrification technologies position themselves at the forefront of a rapidly evolving industry, fostering innovation and competitiveness. Moreover, electrification enhances energy security by diversifying the energy mix.

About the Author

Shalabh Chaturvedi is the Managing Director for India & SAARC region for CASE Construction - India's premium manufacturer of Construction Equipment and a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNH Industrial NV. Having spent more than 15 years in the construction equipment industry, Chaturvedi is a dynamic and visionary leader with a proven track record of driving business growth
and operational excellence. In his role, he is creating synergy between various divisions to create strategies that can connect with the new-age consumer.

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