Industry Uses Pilots and Policies to Move Toward Hybrid Equipment

Volvo CE's larger EC230 Electric excavator. Image: Volvo Construction Equipment.

Today nearly half of construction companies use renewable fuel-powered construction equipment to some degree, mostly for pilots, according to BuiltWorlds’ recent sustainable jobsites research. Analysts also expect that figure to grow with more federal and private investment, as well as regulation and policy incentives.

But beyond the data, how are companies approaching this technology in the context of overall emissions reductions? We asked several AEC sustainability leaders to weigh in and share their companies’ adoption strategies.

“Clayco understands the impact of carbon emissions especially on construction jobsites,” says Alana Spencer, VP of sustainability at Clayco. “With this we have created sustainability guidelines for jobsites and subcontractors to encourage the use of electric equipment and convert to electric equipment.”

In addition, the company has implemented equipment policies, including no idling and EPA engine emission standards, as part of its enterprise-wide sustainability strategy to increase carbon reduction annually.

Formalizing that strategy, Clayco has committed to a science-based target, which provides a pathway to emissions reduction in line with the Paris Agreement, vetted by Science-Based Targets initiative, a third-party validator. Clayco is currently going through the approval process.

NORR, a global architecture and engineering company, doesn’t directly specify which products contractors can use, but promotes more sustainable practices through its specifications, explains Blake Jackson, NORR’s director of sustainability.

“Our specifications, in conjunction with local sustainability-focused ordinances, often based upon LEED, [helps] to support the creation of a cleaner construction market,” she says.

For example, she explains:

LEEDv4 offers projects an opportunity to use the “Clean Construction” pilot credit, as part of their certification/equivalency pathway. Within this credit are several leverage points, which are prompting contractors to move toward using more electric/hybrid equipment, such as restrictions on idling, placement of equipment onsite to limit indoor cross contamination, creation of an equipment use inventory and capstones for emissions standards for all diesel-using equipment used onsite.

Such measures, in conjunction with prioritizing worker health, improved urban air quality and noise reduction, and the anticipated launch of LEEDv5 in 2025, which will require the tracking and reduction of total carbon emissions on projects, are all generating a business case for contractors to play a larger role in decarbonization efforts through further adopting electric/hybrid equipment.

These types of policy frameworks and incentives, prompting the market to respond, are key to accelerating the adoption of electric fleets and electric vehicle infrastructure.

In a white paper authored by the World Economic Forum, analysts cited key funding and policy considerations such as subsidies to purchase electric equipment and mandates requiring a certain percentage of new equipment sales be electric.

Turner Construction Company, which has committed to achieving net-zero emissions across all reporting scopes by 2050, is also trying out alternative fuel-powered heavy equipment and moving toward fully electrifying its fleet of vehicles by 2028.

“We’re actively piloting emerging electric and hybrid equipment and adopting the most viable options, said Lindsey Landwehr-Fasules, director of sustainability at Turner.

“Electrification is a key component of our strategy to reduce emissions across all aspects of our jobsites.”

The question for all stakeholders is how quickly business and government will prioritize action.


Dig into the Details at Construction Tech 2024, July 23-24, in Chicago

Join us for a panel discussion on the latest trends and technologies driving sustainability in construction featuring Alana Spencer, VP of Sustainability, Clayco; Blake Jackson, Director of Sustainability, NORR; Lindsey Landwehr-Fasules, Director of Sustainability, Turner Construction Company; and Joshua Thomlinson Aaron, Sr. Project Engineer, Gilbane.