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Geospatial technology advances sustainability in construction

Geospatial technology advances sustainability in construction

Proving to be a pivotal player in advancing the construction industry’s journey toward net-zero emissions, Nearmap is empowering organisations to reach their sustainability goals by leveraging leading-edge geospatial aerial technology.

While the construction industry contends with the onerous practice of lowest-price tendering, increasing costs and a shortage of skilled labour, businesses in the sector are placing a growing emphasis on decarbonisation, and rightfully so. An increasing number of construction project stakeholders are seeking out contractors who implement sustainable solutions, with many project owners setting sustainability requirements in their tenders.

In 2022, the Australian Government announced its commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Additionally, the construction, use and maintenance of buildings account for approximately one-quarter of Australia’s annual carbon emissions, according to data from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. Therefore, the construction industry has a major role to play in helping the nation achieve these ambitious goals.

Having delivered aerial imagery and geospatial technology to a range of industries since 2007, Nearmap recognises technology’s potential in aiding the construction industry’s progress towards a net-zero future. The Australian-based company provides technology tools that can assist businesses in achieving their sustainability objectives in line with national commitments. As part of this venture, Nearmap recently conducted a survey to explore how the construction, engineering and property sectors can achieve their decarbonisation goals with technology.

Dan Paull, executive vice president and general manager of Australia and New Zealand at Nearmap, has over 30 years’ experience in the geospatial industry. He has dedicated his entire career to this field, partly due to its wide-ranging applicability and constant evolution.

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“I’m always fascinated by the applications – they seem to be as broad as the imagination and without limitation,” says Paull. “Nearmap is in a unique position to help address complex challenges, not only within Australia but on a worldwide scale.”

“The topic of sustainability has been gaining momentum over time, with the Australian construction sector now primarily focusing on achieving these government-set targets.

“We conducted in-depth research to highlight the role technology has in driving the decarbonisation agenda, on both an industry and organisational level.”

Sustainability is a top priority for business leaders in the construction, engineering and property sectors, with 95 per cent of those surveyed citing decarbonisation and emissions reduction as central to their organisation’s overall sustainability agenda, compared to 86 per cent of those from other sectors.

Technology is also high on the agenda, with 100 per cent of the surveyed business leaders in these sectors stating that technology is important to achieving their organisation’s sustainability goals, compared to 97 per cent of those from other industries. However, 60 per cent of leaders in these sectors expressed limited awareness and understanding of available technologies.

“The construction industry recognises that technology has an important role to play, however there’s a gap between what they believe is possible through technology and actually digitising workflows,” says Paull. “Nearmap has a wealth of knowledge on how to bridge this gap and bring these technology solutions to fruition.”

“With the construction, engineering and property sectors already expressing their willingness to explore technology to improve sustainability, it becomes just as much about education as it is about supporting the implementation of these innovative solutions.”

There is a high level of enthusiasm in the construction, engineering and property sectors regarding the potential of geospatial technology and artificial intelligence to reduce carbon emissions across industries in Australia. Of the surveyed business leaders in these sectors, 83 per cent expressed optimism toward these technologies.

Geospatial technology, in particular, is emerging as a ground-breaking solution for construction and property-oriented organisations to reduce their carbon footprint. Through its high-resolution aerial imagery, city-scale 3D datasets, and integrated geospatial tools, Nearmap enables organisations to access data-driven site information remotely.

Use Nearmap to assess sites, make accurate measurements, and validate them multiple times, at any time, over the months and years it may take to complete a project – reducing risk of costly error and waste. (Image: Nearmap)
Use Nearmap to assess sites, make accurate measurements, and validate them multiple times, at any time, over the months and years it may take to complete a project – reducing risk of costly error and waste. (Image: Nearmap)

“Nearmap enhances efficiency by providing higher quality information more effectively than traditional onsite inspections,” says Paull. “This provides great value in various phases of the construction cycle.”

For instance, site visits are a common practice in nearly every construction, engineering and property organisation, and a significant source of carbon emissions. Nearmap enables remote access to detailed site information, reducing the need for site visits in these sectors and therefore helping lower associated carbon emissions, such as those produced from fuel usage.

Reducing site visits in itself has a range of benefits for a construction company, and not just in carbon reduction. It can contribute to easing road congestion and enhances the business’s occupational health and safety by minimising onsite personnel.

“Reducing site visits is the first thing that companies should be implementing,” says Paull. “Nearmap has the tools and technology to make virtual site visits easy and flexible.”

“Having worked as a surveyor in the construction industry, I understand the frustration of going to a site, thinking you’ve completed your tasks, only to realise later that you forgot a measurement and had to return.

“With Nearmap providing a virtual site visit that you can reference anytime and anywhere; you can simply jump into the MapBrowser web application and conduct the measurement virtually.”

There is a surge in interest surrounding these technologies, explains Paull, not just because they’re enhancing the quality and frequency with which information can be delivered, but because that information can be targeted directly towards areas that can have a substantial impact. Nearmap geospatial aerial technology can help construction businesses assess and bid on projects, accurately plan projects, prolong the life of their assets and monitor project progress.

“Data provides profound insights and aids in the process of making more informed decisions, often at a faster pace and with increased certainty,” says Paull. “All of those things are really important to businesses, particularly when you’re in a competitive environment like construction trying to do the right thing by your customers, by your employees, but also the community in regard to emissions.”

While Nearmap is already helping make significant contributions to the construction industry and numerous other sectors, the company remains committed to discovering further innovative approaches to make an even greater impact, adopting a disruptive mindset to help address major industry challenges.

“I believe that there is a genuine belief by the construction and property industries, but broadly as well, that the effort toward carbon reduction is sparking a new wave of innovation,” says Paull. “The need to find solutions to this problem is really driving people to think differently.”

“This is an area in which location and geospatial technology excels – it’s so broadly and dynamically applicable that it’s the perfect partner to explore solutions to the decarbonisation challenge.”

Geospatial technology advances sustainability in construction
Yarraville, Victoria. (Image: Nearmap)

Nearmap published imagery covers up to 95 per cent of the Australian population, and its ambition doesn’t end there. The company has not only expanded its coverage but is also actively working to raise the profile of the benefits technology can enable.

Utilising the research insights, Nearmap has created a corresponding white paper, Decarbonising Australia’s Built World with Technology, to help the construction, engineering and property sectors deepen their understanding of geospatial aerial technology and how it can help them reach their sustainability goals.

Through this white paper, Nearmap is leading the conversation on utilising geospatial technology to help accomplish net zero in the construction industry and encourages leaders in the field to continue the discussion, paving the way for a more sustainable future.

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