Infrastructure can only benefit future generations and contribute to development if it is sustainable. As an investment in long-term economic growth, planning, designing and building of infrastructure must not only benefit development, but also the environment. Sustainable infrastructure must be designed to create a balance between social, economic and environmental issues. Therefore basic infrastructure is not a luxury, but rather a necessity to support and create a sustainable economic environment Frans Pienaar, Chairman of Inyatsi Construction, explains the importance of incorporating the principles of eco building in the construction of schools, hospitals and shopping centres.
Eco building is mainly guided by minimising impact on the environment. This includes infrastructure design which must be done in an energy- efficient manner for cooling and heating. to save on energy consumption. Solar solutions can also help to limit the external energy requirements of a building. Using natural light instead of artificial lighting in buildings also reduces energy consumption.
Choosing the location of new infrastructure development is another important factor in principle of eco building. It is better to choose land where fewer earthworks will be required with limited disruption of nature. Positioning Location of infrastructure should also take into consideration where users are located, to reduce ensure proximity to users to limit transport requirements.
The next important principle of eco building is to use the right materials. Only materials procured and manufactured in an environmentally responsible manner should be used, having been and to start with, specified at the beginning of a project.
These principles will impact on new civil engineering projects, but the adverse effects can be mitigated through eco innovation. Eco innovation is the development of products and processes for sustainable development and using the commercial application of knowledge for direct or indirect ecological improvement. Acceptance and implementation of eco innovation can be fast-tracked by using materials and resources readily available in the area where the infrastructure development is done.
The impact of eco building methods on the world and specifically for civil engineering is that it will change the way we think about project implementation. INew innovations develop the way we think about building and creating infrastructure. On the other hand, ongoing improvement cycles ensure that we become more efficient.
A focus on responsible operations and projects ensures that we continuously re-invent methods and procedures. This is assisted by technological advances in machine technology which also reduces the impact of operations on the environment.
It is undeniable that climate change has an impact on the planning and executing of roads and earthworks projects. Extreme weather and drastic events disrupt work more often than in the past, reducing making contractors’ loose valuable working hours and making it more difficult to achieve reach deadlines.
The increased cost of fossil fuels has also increased the pressure to reduce the impact of building infrastructure on the environment and ensure sustainability. Contractors are required to contain costs, but this can only be done if operations are sustainable.
Developing countries are increasingly adopting eco building principles to ensure the sustainability of developmental projects such as infrastructure development. It is therefore important for construction companies to ensure that they adhere to all the requirements of eco building when applying for a tender.
In addition, it is also important to remember that the general public has also become more aware of environmental issues and requires more intentional consideration than in the past.
Johannesburg, October 2015- Ecological innovation has contributed to sustainable development, especially in the developing world, but remains a challenge due to the prices of eco-friendly products, says Frans Pienaar, Chairman of Inyatsi Construction, a construction company involved in building infrastructure in Southern African countries.
“Materials and specifications for civil engineering and construction projects change with the times and the industry is forced to adjust to using new materials and processes. The impact of ecological innovation on building methods requires us to use more efficient and ecologically sensitive equipment and materials. It has become the norm and if you do not use it, you become obsolete.”
Frans, explains that the extraordinary benefits of highly energy-efficient building products are negated in practice, due to suppliers and manufacturers making undue profits out of new innovations in the environmental field.
“The cost of solar heating systems, for example, does not reflect the cost of the materials or the technology involved. As long as there are so few innovators and manufacturers in this industry, it will take unnecessarily long to realise the benefits of using new technology. Simple technologies and materials are sold at exorbitant prices because contractors are required to implement them,” he says.
Pienaar, suggests that governments can assist the industry by regulating the prices of new technology aimed at sustainable development to prevent abuse by manufacturers. “The commercial application of knowledge to develop products and processes that contribute to sustainable development, must not price itself out of the market.”