Construction 2050

The move to sustainability in construction and infrastructure is a trend that is not only inevitable but welcomed by the team at Civil Project Partners. We asked the team to tell us about the innovations and trends that they see becoming a reality for projects in the years ahead.

Construction 2050

Chris Dale’s take on sustainability sees him looking at how construction will need to address some critical barriers before we can have the sustainable future that we all would like to see.

Using The Sun

The most effective (and most widely available) form of renewable energy is solar, but can a future project afford the expense to invest in plant and equipment to utilise this solar energy and become somewhat self-sustainable?

We are a little way off being able to use the sun’s energy to power a construction project fully, but I am encouraged by the rapid rate of technological change, which would mean that in 2050 all things could be possible. We may be able to see a solar plant on each construction project aligned to battery storage and rapid charging facilities that could power plant and equipment, removing the need for diesel generators and powered vehicles.

However, to get to this utopia, the sector needs support and expertise. At present, there are only a select number of specialist sub-consultants out there to offer advice on this topic. It would also take significant investment from construction companies and clients in infrastructure that can be moved and reused and for technology partners in the supply chain to answer the questions I feel will be asked in the run to 2050.

Solar Powered / Hybrid Construction Plant

This type of plant is not produced on a mass level. I think there are a few examples out there but more so for show and concept development at this stage. In my opinion, there should be incentives for plant and equipment producers to develop the technology required to ensure hybrid or all-electric fleets can operate for a full day, with no loss to productivity and can be rapidly charged after use, either overnight or between shift changes.

Portable Solar Plants

We are used to seeing solar on our homes and increasingly on our commercial buildings, but by 2050, we could well see portable solar plants used across Australia to power site offices, equipment and more.

I have not seen this done on-site to date, but it could be implemented as part of the initial construction set-up costs. It could also have the ability to be portable and moved from project to project, ensuring initial investment can be amortised over the lifespan of the product, not just one project.

In addition, site huts/offices are typically small and closely packed together, meaning that a limited amount of panels would be sufficient to make a reasonable difference.

Electric Site Cars

Is it possible to have all staff travelling to, from and around a site in electric four-wheel drives and utes?

Not now, but in 30 years, it is undoubtedly probable, not simply possible. With the roll-out of fast charging stations and the cost of electrical vehicles reducing with increased sales and competition, accessibility will no longer be a problem.

A long term solution would be to have mobile rapid charging stations as part of the main site infrastructure, ensuring vehicles are ready to operate as needed.

Client Appetite

This is a potential area of challenge because investment in sustainability at this stage is still a cost. At some point, new materials, technologies, and infrastructure will need to be purchased. Therefore the cost burden will fall on the client as part of the project cost. If funding and investment are under pressure, it may be a while before we see more greater energy and renewable targets applied to a project.

However, I believe that this is where the sector must head. Over time, clients should include mandatory sustainability targets for fuel consumption and electricity generation. Often there is a renewable energy target to meet (for the larger projects) written into the contract documents. However, the easiest way to achieve the target is to purchase renewable energy offsets for each project rather than using a more direct method.


I am excited about how our sector can transform over the next few years and utilise technology to become more sustainable. I acknowledge that there is still a gap between what we want to achieve and where the technologies and cost currently sit, but over the next few years, as costs and performance improve, this should change.

But we need to start the groundwork now. Manufacturers must begin developing plant and equipment that can run on renewable energy and achieve the same productivity as their diesel equivalent on which we have been reliant. A brave client should trial a project where renewable targets cannot be achieved by purchasing offsets and engage a bold contractor to be the first to commit to such a target. Yes, there are challenges, but as engineers, designers and problem solvers, they are nothing that we cannot overcome.

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