Making electric dreams a reality |
Decarbonizing construction

Making electric dreams a reality

Construction sites are often noisy places due to the impacts of diesel-powered equipment. That may be about to change as electric-powered alternatives are increasingly put to use. As well as improving conditions for workers and surrounding residents, such machines have the potential to significantly boost sustainability.

If you have visited Skanska’s Meat Packing District project in Stockholm during construction, it’s likely you were struck by the low levels of noise. The site is the first in Sweden to be completely fossil fuel-free and much of the equipment used, such as the excavators, is powered by electricity. Skanska Production Manager John Schott Ericsson says not having diesel engines running means the working environment is much quieter and cleaner than on a regular site. 
In the latest episode of our Shaping Sustainable Places podcast, we meet two individuals with a deep understanding of the potential – and current limitations – of electric construction equipment. James Bailey is the Executive Vice President for Skanska's West Coast region, where an electric excavator was used on the Los Angeles Metro's Purple D Line Extension project. Dr. Ray Gallant, meanwhile, is Vice President for Sustainability and Productivity Services North America for Volvo CE – a leading supplier of electric construction equipment.  

A cleaner working environment


James explains Skanska piloted the use of a Volvo EC230 electric excavator on the D Line project in Los Angeles. He says the project was well suited to electric equipment as electric power was available nearby, the area was contained, and decreased noise was welcomed by the residents in surrounding areas. He says while operators were initially skeptical, they quickly embraced the electric digger and appreciated the lack of fumes and the responsiveness of the machine. 
James says while it’s not possible just yet, eventually every diesel machine used in construction will be able to be replaced with an electric version.. He believes hydrogen-powered construction equipment will also play a role in increasing sustainability.  
James says electric powered vehicles can play a role in helping Skanska achieve its goal of net zero emissions across all scopes by 2045.  

Solutions for charging challenge 

Volvo CE’s Dr. Ray Gallant says switching from diesel to electric vehicles is allowing construction operators to work in areas where they previously couldn’t, including dense urban areas, indoors, and around animals,agricultural and food products.  
He says access to electricity for charging is a key challenge to be solved when using electric vehicles on construction sites. There are three main solutions. Where possible, vehicles or chargers can be plugged directly into the grid. Where this is not possible, portable battery packs can be brought in or electric power can be generated on site. 
Ray says for a 45-ton articulated hauler, some 94% of Scope 1,2 and emissions come from tailpipe. By using an electric vehicle and eliminating fuel burn, those emissions can be eliminated.  
You can tune in, listen and subscribe to the podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.