Ballast Nedam Materieel well on its way to a carbon-neutral construction site

Sustainable construction and development is one of the biggest spearheads within Ballast Nedam. Various initiatives have also been set up at Ballast Nedam Materieel, the equipment rental specialist, to contribute to the climate target of emission-free construction by 2030. Rik van de Weijer, manager of construction site equipment, and Boerzo Ali, technical application manager IoT, explain how we can ensure our construction sites are carbon-neutral by 2030.

What sustainability investments have been made?

"We continue to invest in sustainable equipment and energy-efficient construction site equipment. Even here at the site in Almere, where trucks with equipment drive on and off, one of three electric trucks will soon be deployed," says Rik.

250 switching units

"In recent years, we have made major investments and purchased 250 switching units of 3x6 metres. These are used as office, break, or meeting rooms on the construction site. Switching units are modular and easy to place on top of or next to each other. These sustainable switching units feature good wall insulation, LED lighting that lights up with motion sensors, double glazing and heating and cooling system by means of a heat pump. We are also giving the old 3x10-metre cabins a second life and renovating the cabins so that they are as sustainable as the newly purchased units."

Boerzo adds: "Nowadays, we can monitor more and more things. For example, we did a comparison of energy used between the "old" and "new" unit. We can see that the heat pump in the unit consumes an average of 0.39 KWh, compared to the 0.98 KWh of the electric heater, over a 13-day period. This is an improvement of about 60%."

"Just under a year ago, we took delivery of our first 100% electric telescopic crane. And last summer, our project to replace all lighting for sustainable LED lighting was completed. All light poles have been fitted with LED lighting. The LED lighting provides the same amount of light but uses as much as 50% to 70% less energy. We are continuously taking stock of what other steps we can take in terms of sustainability. This year, for instance, we will also purchase electric vibrating plates and vibratory rammers. We are also investing in collecting information. The unique equipment will all have a QR-code. When scanning the code, you immediately see information about the equipment, the operating instructions and inspection certificates. But we also invest in knowledge. That is why we hired Boerzo to join us. Together, we are looking at the possibilities of having more data so that we can read the consumption, among other things", says Rik.

What are the developments in monitoring?

"A trend we are seeing is digitising systems and products so that they can communicate with each other. We too are looking at ways to make our equipment 'smart'. We have started a pilot where 36 mobile tools will be fitted with sensors. This will give us more detailed and up-to-date insight into energy and fuel consumption, wear, running hours (CO2 emissions), location and also driving behaviour and speed, among other things. This allows us to better manage our objectives and we use the data to optimise planning, preventive maintenance and insight into CO2 emissions", Boerzo says.

Smart energy meters and sensors

At several construction sites, smart energy meters and sensors have been installed in the units and cabins to measure solar panel yields and energy consumption. This data can be read in real time via smartphone and desktop. Rik informs: "We can also monitor the 2480 solar panels we installed on the roof of our Almere location in March 2022. Last year, the solar panels have already generated 724.76 MWh. You can compare that to roughly the consumption of 240 households in one year. And from the time the solar panels were installed in March 2022, we have already generated 1.30 GWh and saved 616.51 tonnes of CO2."

What is your biggest challenge?

"Our biggest challenge is still the electrification of the construction site, due to the overload of the power grid. To respond to this, it is necessary to think differently and look for new technologies and innovations. As a solution to this, we recently bought three 225kVA inverters and five 281kWh battery packs. This investment, combined with solar panels, allows us to use a smaller electricity connection on large construction sites," Boerzo said.

How do you decide what to invest in?

Rik: "In my 23 years at Ballast Nedam, I have learned that it is important to gather input from different sources. The market, but also from colleagues within all business units. In this way, we determine together where there is a need and with which investments we can make the most impact."

Return to: