29 October 2021
Balfour Beatty is holding a series of open days at its Shotts depot in Lanarkshire to highlight measures it is taking to reduce its carbon footprint and that of customers. A number of hirers and suppliers are participating at the events.
Running over several weeks until the middle of November, the timing of the initiative coincides with the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, at which the company will also have a presence.
The Sustainability Evolution Showcase sessions cover diverse themes and products including site setup, plant and vehicles driven by alternative fuels like electricity and hydrogen, modern methods of construction, simulators, drones, digitalisation and remote controlled machinery.
I attended one of yesterday’s sessions. Visitors amongst the group included children from local secondary schools, showing how Balfour Beatty and other participants are reaching out to promote environmental awareness and community engagement.
Heavy and prolonged rain didn’t dampen anyone’s interest and enthusiasm, and perhaps some of the youngsters will go on to consider a career in one of the diverse activities now associated with construction.
In keeping with the green message, delegates were asked to travel to the event sustainably if possible, by eco-friendly transport. Visitors arriving at Shotts rail station were transferred to the facility by electric vehicle.
Participants included GAP (above), who highlighted the award-winning Ecosmart Zero welfare unit designed in association with AJC EasyCabin which incorporates a battery, solar panel and a hydrogen fuel cell. Also on show was the Solar Pod battery storage system and the solar powered Tool Charge Station that can recharge cordless equipment overnight using energy harvested during the daytime.
Sunbelt Rental’s presentation included an explanation of how site offices and welfare facilities can be designed to save energy. Measures include fitting better insulation, lights being operated by passive infra red (PIR) sensors and using solar panels to harvest energy that would significantly reduce diesel generator usage. Heaters also detect when exterior doors are left open and automatically switch off.
Electric light switches and other fittings on Sunbelt’s demonstration site unit also used colours that are easier for visually impaired people to see.
Vp's MEP mechanical and electrical hire division showed equipment like the manually operated JLG Pecolift work platform, and Ridgid metal shears that chop steel extrusions instead of using a saw that has trailing cables and creates debris. Also displayed was a site storage unit from Metal and Modular, the panels of which are bolted rather than welded, again reducing emissions.
Vp’s ESS Safeforce division promoted thermal imaging cameras and an acoustic imager that can detect air, water or gas leaks from 70m.
Speedy’s line-up included the MX Fuel Tower Light from Milwaukee powered by batteries that can be used with other equipment like a cut-off saw and a demolition hammer. Also on show was the Power Track modular temporary power and lighting system that is floor-run and simply clips together, as well as Speedy’s new 27-tonne Electra eStar rear-steer delivery truck (below) which is powered by batteries producing 225kWh giving a stated range of up to 155 miles.
Hilti demonstrated safety features on its power tools like automatic torque control (ATC) that prevents a drill from twisting if the bit seizes, preventing wrist injury.
Husqvarna’s stand included the new battery powered K1 Pace disc cutter (below) that accepts 12in and 14in (300mm and 350mm) diameter blades and eliminates emissions, fumes and having to mix oil and fuel.
Other participants showing battery powered equipment included Makita, Stihl, JCB and Nationwide Access.
In December 2020, Balfour Beatty launched its refreshed sustainability strategy, Building New Futures, which sets out ambitions to achieve net zero emissions, generate zero waste and positively impact over one million people by 2040. This addresses three areas, namely the environment, materials and communities, with each area assigned a target.