This phase details the opportunities to embed and retain infrastructure climate resilience in the construction phase of a project. At this stage, the technical details and requirements have already been established in the Design phase, and contractual arrangements have been set through the Procurement phase.
The contractor is responsible for the supply and quality of construction materials, construction means and methods, construction sequence and schedule, site protection strategies (including from climate risks), and overall quality control.
During the construction phase, technical details may also need to be altered to align with cost limitations or construction methods, representing potential risk to the resilience value of a project. Therefore, the objective of this phase with respect to the climate resilience of a project is to ensure that resilience value is not eroded, the construction does not lead to unintended negative impacts on impacted communities, and the climate risks associated with construction are mitigated. The construction phase also presents opportunities to collect data that can be passed on to improve resilience-minded decision-making during the Operations and Management phase.
Contractors are the lead practitioners in this phase of the infrastructure lifecycle, responsible for the physical construction and quality of infrastructure, ensuring it is built according to pre-determined technical specifications. Contractors include large-scale, national or international firms, construction material supply companies, and local, small-scale builders.
Designers are typically involved in providing oversight of the construction phase, working closely with the contractor to review and approve drawings, construction sequencing, and proposed changes to technical details and specifications. Therefore, they also have an important, secondary role to play in ensuring a high-quality end product with the intended resilience value maintained at the completion of construction.
Owner-operators, including both government and non-government practitioners, are indirectly related to the actions in this phase of the infrastructure lifecycle. They are typically the client, providing oversight to the contractor. They are also typically responsible for value engineering decisions and approving changes to the technical specifications of the project proposed by the contractor, so it is critical that they understand and value the ways in which climate resilience has been embedded in the project in earlier stages of the lifecycle.
Key Inputs from Other Phases
Phase 1: Policies and Plans
The types of infrastructure development strategies governments include in planning and policy setting influence the type of work contractors will get involved in, for example, offshore wind, regenerative land management, nature-based solutions etc.
Government policies and plans can dictate the direction that the construction industry goes in, for example by mandating the use of BIM or the integration of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the supply chain for all publicly funded projects will force contractors to incorporate such measures to win government-funded projects.
Lobbying by the construction industry for technology development and materials that support climate resilience can influence government policy.
Phase 2: Prioritisation
Decisions made at the prioritisation phase determine the project concepts that will move forward towards construction, for example a decision to pursue a nature-based or hybrid approach to coastal protection as opposed to a seawall.
Phase 3Feasibility and Preparation
The project feasibility stage will determine the site location, scope and delivery strategy for construction which will inform the short-term resilience measures that need to be taken during the construction phase. The site location, scope and delivery strategy will also impact logistics of construction materials, local employment creation and the selection of supply chain.
Phase 4Funding and Financing
The funding and financing sources and mechanisms of an infrastructure project will determine the extent to which resilience measures can be introduced. For example, privately-funded projects, government-funded projects, and donor-funded projects will have differing levels of scope for climate-resilient construction, opportunities for innovation, use of BIM and digital twins and fund allowances for capacity building.
The designer will prepare drawings and specifications that the contractor must adhere to. This could include the adoption of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), prefabricated materials and sustainable or low-carbon materials.
The contractor should maximise opportunity for early contractor involvement (ECI) during the design phase and maintain communication using procedures such as RFIs with the designer during construction.
The procurement stage will specify the requirements of the contractor and supply chain, including their responsibilities with respect to capacity building, emergency response planning, use of climate rating systems and the integration of BIM.
If procurement strategies are updated to include sustainability and social value credits in their Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and Request for Proposals (RFP), it would force contractors to upskill and provide these skills in order to win work.
Phase 8Operations and Maintenance
Incorporating effective engagement during construction with local communities will provide a sense of ownership of the asset for local users. This in turn increases the likelihood of successful O&M.
Collecting real-time data during construction is vital information that can be passed onto the O&M phase, and can help provide evidence-based and informed decision making.
Phase 9End of Life
The use of prefabricated materials and MMC will determine the design life of an asset and how it can be repurposed to be used again.
Implementing quality control procedures during construction can alter the construction quality and robustness of the asset. This in turn can increase the design life as it may be able to better withstand extreme events.
The Basics and the Shift
In the Construction phase of the infrastructure lifecycle, the contractor builds an asset using technical drawings and specifications provided by the designer, with oversight from the designer and approval provided by the owner. During this phase, it is critical that these groups collectively understand and value the ways in which climate resilience considerations have been factored into the design, in order to ensure that resilience value is protected and not unintentionally eroded. Practitioners in this phase must also understand and address the two ways that climate hazards impact the construction phase:
- Climate-related extreme weather events during the construction phase (short-term)
- The need to implement measures so that what is being constructed is physically resilient to future extreme events (long-term)
For the short-term threat, those involved in the construction of infrastructure assets need to be able to continue their work safely with minimal disruption from climate-related hazards, such as extreme heat, high winds, or flooding. Climate hazards during construction pose risks to the project schedule and the ultimate physical quality of the asset, as well as the safety and wellbeing of the construction workforce.
While responsibility for longer-term physical resilience to climate change is more directly tied to the actions of designers and other practitioners in the planning stages of the lifecycle, contractors also play a role in ensuring proper implementation of resilience-building design features, selection of high-quality, robust materials, and using their power to influence changes in the construction industry towards more resilient and sustainable practices. They should also leverage the use of data and new methods of construction to support more resilient outcomes from construction.
Traditional Responsibilities and Decisions
Effects of Climate Change
New Tools and Approaches
Traditional elements of infrastructure construction vary in many different regions of the world. Typically, the construction phase begins once the design stage has been completed and designs have been approved for construction.
During the construction stage, the main contractor is responsible for:
- Using existing technologies, materials and standards to construct infrastructure
- Hiring plants and selecting materials based on programme and budget
- Appointing manufacturers / suppliers for materials that comply with designers’ specifications
- Selecting construction methods by completing risk assessments and method statements
- Complying with the design intent and owner requirements including budget
- Providing quality control and facilitating quality assurance by the owner
Collect as-built data using photographs and check sheets, and handing this over to the asset owner
More frequent extreme weather events and unpredictable climate will impact:
- the materials and methods used for construction,
- the construction process itself
- reconstruction after a climate related disaster
Not only does the quality and longevity of infrastructure assets need to be greater to withstand extreme events, but the rate at which assets are constructed needs to be fast enough so that exposure to shocks and stresses during construction is not prolonged.
In addition, extreme heat, storms and flooding will make the construction process, including procurement of materials, more difficult and unpredictable, as well as unsafe for the workforce. This means that the industry needs to be smarter and more efficient to work around these challenges.
To address these challenges, a shift in traditional construction approaches and tools is necessary, including:
- Use of their influence to lobby for change with respect to materials, technologies and standards
- Preparation for more extreme weather events during the construction phase by monitoring weather patterns and use that data to inform construction methods
- Geographic diversification of the supply chain to build resilience into the construction method and programmes
- Revision of construction methods to incorporate modular, easily replaceable and prefabricated materials for future flexibility
- Encouragement of early contractor involvement where the contractor influences the design
- Use of digital technologies such as real-time data or digital twins, to collect data which can be passed on to asset owners and operators to make better decision during the operational life
- Building of climate resilient infrastructure with the community, passing on skills and knowledge by capacity building
- Awareness-raising and capacity building of contractors related to climate-resilient construction, including for example the incorporation of nature based solutions (NbS)
Integrated Guidance for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure
Based on the review of over 150 existing publications and tools on climate-resilient infrastructure, the following key actions have been identified to support practitioners in integrating climate resilience into infrastructure development in the Construction phase of the infrastructure lifecycle. These actions are summarized in the table below and grouped by theme. Each action is further elaborated on in this section and references and links to key publication and tools are shared.
The following resources have been identified as the key resources for practitioners working in the Construction phase of the infrastructure lifecycle.
Guidance Canadian Construction Association
Strength, Resilience, Sustainability
This report has been prepared by the Canadian Construction Association and includes recommendations for the Government to adapt to climate change with respect to infrastructure investment. This report is an example of how the construction industry has come together to leverage their influence to promote climate adaptation and resilience.
Guidance European Commission
Technical guidance on the climate proofing of infrastructure in the period 2021-2027
This report by the European Commission is intended to provide technical guidance on climate proofing infrastructure. Chapter 4 provides recommendations on climate proofing across the project lifecycle, including construction. Annexes C and D also provide further considerations for climate proofing infrastructure during the construction phase.
A Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings & Communities.
This UNEP document focusses on design; however, the conclusion of this report includes a list of questions that a contractor can use to assess whether climate resilience has been considered. It can be included in on-site quality control documentation.
Guidance Procedia Engineering
Improving Socially Sustainable Design and Construction in Developing Countries
This document is relevant for construction projects in an international development context and provides clear recommendations to build sustainably and to ensure successful implementation and adoption. The recommendations can be applied to buildings as well as infrastructure.
Summary of Integrated Guidance
- Theme 1: Innovation and Influence
- Theme 2: Construction methods and protocols
- Theme 3: Resilience during Construction
- Theme 4: Capacity Building
- 7.4.1 Improve contractors’ understanding of climate risks and opportunities to increase the resilience and sustainability of infrastructure
- 7.4.2 Leverage communities to enhance the resilience and sustainability of infrastructure construction while limiting the introduction of unintended vulnerabilities
Theme 1: Innovation and Influence
7.1.1 Leverage the influence of the construction industry to promote use of materials, technologies and systems that enhance climate resilience
The construction industry has significant influence over methods of construction, and the application and prevalence of different construction materials. As such, they are active influencers and stakeholders in the development of construction codes and standards, which must be adapted and improved to foster increased resilience and sustainability. To leverage their influence, contractors must come together to align on their values and objectives. This can be done via collective associations, councils, and unions. Historically, these types of organisations have lobbied for improved working conditions and labour matters, but now they are raising their voices with respect to the built environment and climate change.
In Canada, the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), not only advocates for policy changes with respect to infrastructure investment and innovation, but is now calling for greater investment in sustainable infrastructure to build Canada’s clean economy . This publication by the CCA on climate resilience in the construction sector is a call to action to government and other key stakeholders, and include recommendations such as;
- Improve data accessibility including climate modelling;
- Incentivize the development and deployment of innovations that align with national infrastructure goals;
- Update standards and regulations as materials and approaches are tested and de-risked, so best practices are incorporated into updated standards that govern and guide how infrastructure is built in Canada; and
- Continue to contribute to the development by the Canadian Standards Association of a national resilience taxonomy to help identify investments as ‘sustainable’ .
More globally, the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (which was launched at COP21) aims for ‘a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector’. . This forum engages in key political processes to bring home the importance of decarbonizing the buildings and construction sector to achieve not only the Paris climate goals but also the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Evidence-Based Decision Making One key outcome of this global alliance is their annual publication on “The Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction” which monitors progress of the buildings and construction sector globally towards the achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This in turn is used to make informed decisions to policy makers on how to tackle climate change, both mitigation and adaptation, within the building and construction industry.
Establishing councils and industry organisations, where they do not already exist, is a key first step to leverage the influence of the construction industry to raise awareness on climate resilience. Where such organisations exist, Capacity Building they should evolve to promote and build capacity regarding sustainable and resilient practices, which was the case in India with the ‘Building Materials & Technologies Promotion Council.’ Refer to case study below for more details on this organisation.
In regions where quality and/or implementation of construction codes and standards are lacking, the construction industry also has an opportunity to influence the safety, resilience and sustainability of the built environment. Some international construction firms devote profits to supporting these types of activities as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Other non-profit and civil society organisations focus on building capacity within the government to develop and enforce construction standards and with local contractors to improve know-how related to physically-resilient construction techniques. The World Bank’s Building Regulation for Resilience program is one example of an initiative to identify and improve areas of weakness in the regulation of the construction environment in developing countries .
Building Materials & Technologies Promotion Council
In India, the Building Materials & Technologies Promotion Council (BMTPB) was established by the Government of India in 1990. Their work includes:
- Assisting in capacity building and skill development through training of village artisans, craftsmen and help in production of simple building components using local materials
- Evaluating and standardizing innovative building materials and construction technologies through Performance Appraisal Certification Scheme
- Persuading Central and State Government agencies, housing development and construction agencies and organizations in private and community sectors for application of proven cost effective and energy-efficient building materials and construction technologies
- Undertaking Rapid Damage Assessment Studies of the disaster affected areas and to develop and promote disaster resistant construction technologies
- Advise on vulnerability and risk assessment and on formulation of relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes for disaster mitigation and assist in capacity building for disaster preparedness
The Council has also been involved with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in the formulation of Standards including cost effective technologies such as flyash bricks, RCC planks & joist, bamboo mat corrugated roofing sheets. Furthermore, they have collaborated with international organisations, including UNDP to create a handbook for Disaster Risk Reduction which places emphasis on climate change adaptation.a
Their ‘Capacity Building and Training Programmes’ for construction professionals and workforce rely on collaboration with Academic, R&D, NGOs and public & private Institutions, which further emphasises their influence around within other sectors.
a UNDP, 2016. Disaster Risk Reduction: A Handbook for Urban Managers, New Dehli: s.n
7.1.2 Maximise use of digital technologies and collect real-time data during construction to improve decision-making
The operation and maintenance phase of an individual asset or portfolio of infrastructure assets depends on good quality data to make informed decisions with respect to maintenance regimes, interventions and end-of-life strategies. Evidence-Based Decision Making To enable effective decision making during the operation and maintenance (O&M) phase, an O&M strategy should be established during the design stage and refined during the construction phase, which would allow monitoring devices to be installed during construction.
For example, for underground pipes this could include sensors or flowmeters, and for river walls this could include early warning sensors. The O&M strategy will specify the devices, data collection frequency and triggers that can be adjusted during O&M to account for climate change impacts. Installation of these devices, if the strategy is established early during the design phase, can be accounted for during construction.
Furthermore,Evidence-Based Decision Making the use of digital technologies for the purpose of creating digital twins can also have positive impacts on making the O&M phase more efficient. Real time data, such as as-builts, trial hole data, ground conditions etc., should be collected during the construction phase and fed into the virtual model. The model can then be used for planning, making operational decisions, and enhancing emergency planning to recover quickly from disasters.
‘Construction declares’ is a global petition aiming to unite those working in the built environment to take action in response to the climate crisis. In the UK specifically in 2020, eight contractors joined forces to declare a state of Climate and Biodiversity emergency under a “UK Contractors Declare” bannera. They seek to raise awareness of the climate emergency, advocate for change in the industry towards regenerative practices, establish climate mitigation and adaptation principles, maximise biodiversity and air quality enhancement, share knowledge and research and accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials . This is an example of leaders in the construction industry using their influence to promote materials, technologies and systems that support climate change mitigation and resilience.
a(uk.buildersdeclare.com, 2021. UK Contractors Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency. Available at: https://uk.buildersdeclare.com/ [Accessed 5 October 2021].)
Theme 2: Construction methods and protocols
Controlling quality during the construction phase is essential to ensure the asset is durable, does not fail, and complies with the designer’s specifications and published standards. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) defines quality as the ‘conformance to pre-determined requirements’ which are the technical drawings and specifications issued to the contractor by the designer. Oftentimes, especially in contexts in which the enforcement of building and infrastructure regulations is inadequate or non-existent, infrastructure can be constructed with a high degree of vulnerability and low levels of durability, both of which are exacerbated over time by the effects of climate change.
Action 3.6 (Pg 106) and Toolbox D (Pg 81) of the World Bank’s A Guide for Designing Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience acknowledges that quality control and enforcement of construction codes during construction is particularly important to climate adaptation.
Each construction project typically has its own Quality Control and Quality Assurance (QC/QA) documentation and procedures, which usually includes Quality Management Plans, Inspection Test Plans and Non-Conformance reporting. These are in place to ensure that what is being constructed matches required specifications and that the data which feeds into these plans is collected using a checklist-style questionnaire.
Several climate resilience checklists and tools exist which can be either directly used or adapted to be relevant to the construction phase. For example, the Toronto Green Standard Version 3.0 contains a resilience checklist for new buildings which considers power outages, flooding and extreme heat/cold Some questions in the checklist are relevant for designers; however, others can be applied to resilience in the construction phase. A more high-level checklist is included in Chapter 6.1 of ‘A Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings & Communities’ and Annex D.6 Table 14 of this report by the European Commission.
Capacity Building Specific checklists to assess not only the quality of construction but also the consideration of climate risks have the potential to increase the physical resilience of the asset, as well as upskilling contractors on climate adaptation.
7.2.2 Ensure communication protocols exist between designer and contractor to avoid erosion of the asset’s resilience
As highlighted in Action 5.4.3 in the Design phase, the designer should select appropriate materials considering robustness to climate hazards. Although the designer should specify the material selection and physical properties in the construction specification and drawings, a clear, concise communication protocol should be in place between the contractor and designer so that resilience measures which are embedded at earlier stages are followed through as per the designer’s intention. This communication should also continue downstream to the asset owner for the O&M phase.
Common construction-phase administrative procedures that can be leveraged to allow communication related to climate resilience include:
- Request for Information (RFI) procedures: RFI’s are a formal written procedure initiated by the contractor seeking additional information or clarification for issues related to design, construction, and other contract documents). Procedures such as RFI’s can be useful when seeking clarifications from the designer as to why a particular material or method has been selected. They therefore minimise the risk of contractors amending the design on site which may have been specifically designed with climate resilience in mind.
- Early Contractor Involvement (ECI): Systems Thinking Involving the contractor during the design stage has been recognised to improve drawing quality, material supply, and information flow, and consequently improve construction schedule performance. This practise could also lead to more integrated design-build solutions to address a project’s resilience and sustainability goals and to ensure that resilient design measures put in place can be effectively implemented by the contractor during construction.
Digital technologies, including building information models (BIM), should also be used to enhance communication of resilient design between designers and contractors. Evidence-Based Decision Making Visual digital tools can enhance traditional RFI procedures by providing notification of changes in real time, showing any clashes in the design, and allowing both contractor and designer to pinpoint areas of climate-resilient vulnerability. More guidance on the implementation of BIM in projects can be found in ISO 19650.
Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, West Closure Complex Pump Station
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West (GIWW) Closure Complex is $1 billion hurricane storm surge protection facility for the city of New Orleans, USA. It was constructed as part of the New Orleans area Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) and includes the world’s biggest drainage pumping station.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) retained Bioengineering ARCADIS to provide design team management of the West Closure Complex (WCC) Pump Station and auxiliary components and were mandated by Congress to complete the project by June 2011.
To assure meeting the mandated completion date and incorporate the contractor’s experience, Bioengineering ARCADIS and the Corps employed an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) delivery approach where the contractor was brought on board while design was still in progress. The ECI approach provided options for controlling costs, helped reduce design risks, improved constructability, enhanced safety, and reduced construction timeframe.a
This case study is an example of how project timeframes can be accelerated using collaborative contractor methods, so that critical infrastructure projects which are designed for adverse weather can be erected as quickly as possible.
a (American Academy of Evironmental Engineers & Scientists, 2012. Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, West Closure Complex Pump Station. Online Available at: https://www.aaees.org/e3scompetition/2012honor-design1.php Last Accessed 6 October 2021.)
7.2.3 Consider Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)
Service Continuity and Reliability Climate resilience requires not only fostering the long-term durability, robustness and usefulness of infrastructure, but also planning for the rapid re-construction of existing, non-resilient infrastructure that is damaged or destroyed due to a disaster, including schools, hospitals and housing. This requires new, more efficient methods of construction to be used, in addition to accelerated planning and procurement processes. Although not a climate-related disaster, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, in China a hospital was built in 10 days, and in the UK, an exhibition space was converted into a temporary hospital in 9 days. These are extreme examples and were not all seamless through to operation, but the principle remains that swift turnarounds are key to societies and economies bouncing back following a crisis.
Future-Oriented PlanningInnovation of modular and easily replicable designs is key to enabling infrastructure at a fast pace that will be essential in the face of climate change. For example, Network Rail (UK) have developed a new lightweight Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) footbridge that is modular and can be constructed in a matter of days. This approach is a radical shift from their traditional heavy and costly bridge design with higher transport and installation costs. The UK Government has recognised the need and benefits of MMC, as it was a key policy in the UK Construction Playbook 2020.
Environmental Co-BenefitsAside from the rate of construction, there are several other benefits of MMC including, ease of dissembling and reuse, reduced construction waste, reduced operational energy and safer working conditions.
There are several sources of existing guidance and examples of MMC for homes and other replicable buildings; however, as infrastructure assets are not always easily replicable and are typically bespoke, adopting MMC in other types of infrastructure can be more challenging. One area of applicability of MMC in infrastructure is data centres, as these tend to be scalable buildings.Schneider Electric is one example of a manufacturer providing prefabricated data centres that can be deployed in a little as six weeks.
Principles of MMC can also be applied to highways, bridges and buildings, where precast concrete structures can be used as a replacement for cast-in-place systems; however, there must be increased attention to the robustness and redundancy of precast systems, particularly the connections of components, compared to cast-in-place ones. In general, care should be taken when choosing to use MMC and modular designs, as they can be less robust and have shorter useful lives compared to traditional methods of construction. Inclusive EngagementTherefore, the contractor alongside the designer, should identify the limitations of MMC and the appropriate usages. There is an opportunity here to increase collaboration with academia and researchers working in the field of MMC and upskill a new generation of construction workers.
More information on MMC can be found in the following resources;
- Modular Construction: From projects to products
- Modular Building Institute webpage
- Introduction to prefabrication video, Autodesk
- Inside the Centre of Excellence for Modern Construction, Laing O’Rourke (video)
KWS, Wavin and Total have been working on the development of the first PlasticRoad. Test roads have been built in Zwolle and Giethoorn, east of Amsterdam, which are prefabricated roads built using recycled plastic, cutting carbon emission by 70%. Early testing shows the road is able to withstand heavy vehicle loadinga.
The product claims that one can “use PlasticRoad’s climate-adaptive and circular elements to construct bike paths, footpaths, parking lots and squares.” Not only is this product an example of modular, pre-fabricated, low-carbon construction, but the design accounts for increased rainfall from climate change by providing surface water filtration and storage and promoting infiltrationb.
a Wavin, 2020. PlasticRoad is ready for market. (Online) Available at: https://www.wavin.com/en-en/news-cases/news/plasticroad-is-ready-for-market Last Accessed 6 October 2021.
b PlasticRoad, 2020. Smart Sustainable infra solutions(Online) Available at: https://plasticroad.com/en/ Last Accessed 6 October 2021
Theme 3: Resilience during Construction
7.3.1 Prepare for extreme weather conditions during construction
While infrastructure design should account for longer term climate change impacts, adverse events can occur in the relatively short timescale of a construction project, and it is the contractor’s responsibility to address these short-term hazards in the construction plan. Extreme climate events such as floods, storms and heat waves can impact the time taken to construct infrastructure as well have knock on effects to the safety of the workforce and damage to materials and structures. As such, measures should be taken by the contractor to be able to weather climate events during construction with minimal disruption.
The first logical step is awareness of what the climate risks are at the site location, supported by weather data. Understanding weather data and preparing for extreme events should be integrated into the construction risk assessment and/or method statements. For example, having a better understanding of site levels and rainfall data can inform the decision as to what level above ground materials should be stockpiled, or better understanding wind speeds can change the type of crane used that day. Site emergency procedures and site health, safety and welfare should also support these procedures to further build in resilience into the construction process.
Tools available such as Weather Cockpit ® can be used to integrate weather pattens into construction planning and procedures. The Weather Services for Building Project Managers service was used for the Forth Road Bridge Constructors (FCBC), where wind and rainfall analysis was used in the pre-construction phase, and weather dependent construction tasks were planned up to 14 days ahead to influence the hiring of plant and equipment.
Additional benefits arising from better weather data collection is the minimisation of contract claims arising from extreme weather events and minimizing the possibility of accidents on site.
Project FAIRCOP is funded by Innovate UK, and uses wind LIDAR, a wind profiling technique that measures the laser backscatter from airborne particles to obtain line of sight wind speed. The research aims to confirm the technical and economic feasibility of applying converging beam LIDAR to the construction industry and crane applications in particular.
Currently, crane operations use rudimentary anemometers which give no advance warning of wind speeds and no indication of the variation of the wind field across large crane structures.
Source: (UK Research and Innovation, 2020)
7.3.2 Map out and diversify the construction supply chain
In 2021, several construction projects were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Suez Canal container ship blockage. Construction material prices rocketed, and lead times were lengthened. Adding climate change and extreme weather events to this, it’s evident that the construction industry needs to better understand its supply chain and build in greater diversification and resilience.
Preparing a list of vendors and suppliers located in diverse geographic locations is recommended, along with keeping on top of lead times on materials. Environmental Co-BenefitsFrom an emissions and logistics perspective, adjusting the supply chain so that SMEs and those in close proximity are prioritised is preferred. However, for more global supply chains, understanding what climate events are happening in various parts of the world will allow for better estimation of lead times, project programmes and cost.
According to Deloitte’s Africa Construction Trends Report, research in the South African market shows building resilient supply chains has the potential to improve project delivery time by up to 30% and reduce project cost by up to 15-20%. Simultaneously, a 2021 US governmental report published by the White House includes a recommendation to the President to “enact the proposed Supply Chain Resilience Program at the Department of Commerce, to monitor, analyze, and forecast supply chain vulnerabilities and partner with industry, labor, and other stakeholders to strengthen resilience” .
Theme 4: Capacity Building
7.4.1 Improve contractors’ understanding of climate risks and opportunities to increase the resilience and sustainability of infrastructure
In addition to climate risks increasing the complexity of considerations in the construction of infrastructure, new materials and technologies, including construction automation, introduce other complexities that require new knowledge and skills in the construction workforce. While there may be a perception that automation of construction tasks will result in fewer job opportunities, Capacity Buildingthese industry changes also present an opportunity to build the capacity of the construction workforce on the importance of climate mitigation and adaptation and to diversify skillsets. Figure 3 in a report by the Autodesk Foundation and Deloitte shows a hierarchy of skills which will be required alongside construction automation.
Page 53 of a report by the Climate Change Committee (UK) emphasises that engineering, procurement and construction organisations and training institutions need to be engaged and consulted on new training courses for the required upskilling. This task has been given to the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and the Government’s new Green Jobs Taskforce.
Operational training of the construction workforce to be able to deal with climate disasters should also be considered. This can take place in the form of scenario training, which was identified following the events on September 11th 2001 in New York. Scenario training is typically standard practise in the construction industry, with fire evacuation, fuel spill, terror attack etc. drills. These should be extended to include climate-related events such as flooding, mud slides, fires etc to improve contractors’ understanding of climate risks. Guidance on preparing an emergency preparedness plan includes the following resources.
- Guideline for Emergency Planning for the Australian Commercial Construction Industry
- United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration webpage
Furthermore, climate change is and will increasingly be affecting those in low- to middle-income countries more severely, and it is in these countries that development is occurring most rapidly. Therefore, there is an especially urgent need to build the capacity of the construction sector in these countries, both in terms of construction firms and material suppliers, to not only improve construction safety, quality and longevity but also support local economic development. Capacity BuildingIn situations where international contractors lead the construction of infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries, these projects should include local partnerships and meaningful skills-building and knowledge-transfer activities with local contractors.
Extra resources for capacity building in construction are included below:
- FAO Learning Materials (Practical tools and videos)
- Developing disaster risk reduction skills among informal construction workers in Nepal report, see pages 627-646.
7.4.2 Leverage communities to enhance the resilience and sustainability of infrastructure construction while limiting the introduction of unintended vulnerabilities
Oftentimes, particularly on large infrastructure projects or in post-disaster reconstruction, international contractors are brought in to lead the design and construction of new infrastructure assets and systems in low-income countries. Well-intentioned NGO’s and other civil society organizations may also sponsor and lead the design and construction of community-scale infrastructure projects such as schools or WASH systems. While some of these projects have been successful, there are unfortunately many instances in which the resulting infrastructure was not appropriate (and therefore not used or used incorrectly), introduced unintended negative consequences, or did not maintain its intended longevity and useful life. As a result, much-needed infrastructure investment opportunities were squandered.
The reasons for these shortcomings are myriad, including lack of technical knowledge related to locally appropriate materials and systems, lack of consideration of realistic long-term maintenance strategies, or lack of community endorsement. According to Pocock, et al., 2016 some examples of failure due to lack of community consideration include:
- Non-profit, Water for People, states that approximately 50,000 rural water points are broken, and U.S. $215-360 million of investment wasted because of poor programming and careless implementation;
- A project by Engineers Without Borders in Rwanda failed because of “their lack of involvement and training of the community during the initial implementation”;
- The NGO World Vision drilled several wells in a region of Senegal, but the cleaner water tasted bad, and people went back to drinking contaminated water;
- A Save the Children Fund project in Malawi lacked training on the importance of hygiene and sanitation practices.
Inclusive EngagementIn order to avoid these shortcomings and to ensure that the infrastructure that is built is both resilient and sustainable over time, it is essential to involve community stakeholders meaningfully in planning, design and construction. Care must be taken on how communities are involved, as community participation on its own does not guarantee project success and may introduce unintended vulnerabilities. For example, community construction of school infrastructure may be appropriate in remote situations in which indigenous materials are used for construction; however, in situations where modern materials such as concrete or brick are used, it is important that those who are responsible for construction are well-trained and qualified to perform this work. Communities can more effectively play a role in the quality assurance of construction projects built by hired contractors, as they have a direct incentive to carefully monitor construction quality and physical resilience.
Inclusive engagement in infrastructure development and implementation will not only create a project that is less likely to fail but also create a sense of community ownership, ensuring a more successful subsequent O&M phase. Equity and Social Co-BenefitsAn additional co-benefit of community engagement is the likely resulting integration of more local materials and products (e.g. timber, bricks, bamboo) into infrastructure projects helping to support local employment and economic development.
Additional guidance on effective community-based construction include:
- Chapter IV of Climate and Disaster Resilience – The Role for Community-Driven Development 
- Improving Socially Sustainable Design and Construction in Developing Countries 
- Chapters 2 and 3 of Assessing local building cultures for resilience & development
Pacific Resilience Program (PREP), Tonga
The Pacific Resilience Program (PREP) is a series of projects with a national and regional component that will benefit the Pacific region, with participating countries including Samoa, Tonga, Republic of Marshall Islands and Vanuatu. The program is World Bank funded and began in 2015.
Following the Tropical Cyclone Gita in 2018 there was extensive damage and loss to property and public infrastructure, including schools and health facilities. School buildings were affected disproportionately, with the rapid assessment estimating approximately 75 percent of the 150 schools on the main island of Tongatapu as damaged, compared to 25 percent of all residential buildings.a
The construction was co-funded by the World Bank and the Government of Australia, and Cardo, an Australian Company, was contracted as the Design and Supervision Firm.
Local contractors in Tonga were involved in the construction aspects and as a result, have been equipped with enhanced capacity on environmental, health and safety (EHS) safeguard policies and resilience standards through the application of the ‘Build Back Better’ principles.
The Implementation Support Specialist representative for PREP in Tonga also emphasised that through the capacity building provided, local contractors are now familiar with the procurement process for bidding from international development partners like the World Bank and managing contracts under international standards contractors.
Additionally, local contractors are also building their capacities in relation to the application of the “Build Back Better” (BBB) standards*. This was demonstrated through the schools that have undergone completed reconstruction which applies the BBB principles in their reconstruction.
* BBB is the use of the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phases after a disaster to increase the resilience of nations and communities through integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure and societal systems, and into the revitalization of livelihoods, economies, and the environmentb.
a Bloomfield, E. K., 2021. Summary – Completion of the Resilient Construction Program in 25 schools under PREP. (Online) Available at: https://reliefweb.int/report/tonga/summary-completion-resilient-construction-program-25-schools-under-prep Last Accessed 8 October 2021.
b UNISDR, 2017. Build Back Better, Geneva: UNISDR.)
Climate Change Mitigation Considerations
Theme 1: Innovation and Influence
There are opportunities for the industry to lobby for new standards that promote net-zero, or low carbon technologies.
There is an opportunity to engage academia, new start-ups and small enterprises within construction activities including using local manufacturers. This can lead to increasing the diversity of the industry to improve the involvement of under-represented groups including women and minorities.
Theme 2: Construction methods and protocols
Prefabrication of materials, and offsite manufacturing can reduce emissions during the construction phase. Re-thinking material selection further allows the choice of materials with lower embodied carbon.
Apprenticeships in MMC and digital technology can lead to equal employment opportunities and engage new skills into the traditional construction industry.
Theme 3: Resilience during Construction
Manufacturers and materials suppliers that are geographically close should be prioritised to lower transportation related emissions.
Re-evaluating the supply chain can lead to opportunities to include SMEs and smaller firms into the construction supply chain. This can also lead to new skills being brought in and bringing in a more diverse workforce.
Theme 4: Capacity Building
Improving knowledge of climate resilience will inherently improve awareness and knowledge of climate change, impacts and mitigation.
There is opportunity to involve women, and other under-represented groups, into construction and STEM in general.
There can also be on-the-job learning and employment opportunities for local communities.
Downstream Benefits of a Resilience-based Approach in the Construction Phase
Phase 8Operation and Maintenance
O&M is dependent on asset data and information to make informed decisions. Maintenance regimes and operational, tactical and strategic decision-making can be enhanced if the data that operators have is of high quality. Developing an appropriate O&M strategy and implementing long-term monitoring systems in the construction phase will allow timely collection of asset data.
Furthermore, upskilling construction workers will have a positive impact on the implementation of O&M, especially in remote areas, where the local community has been engaged in the design and construction phase, and local contractors have been upskilled in climate resilience. Moreover, O&M can be more responsive to climate risks when there is clear communication across the design, construction and O&M phases (i.e. handover), with better quality control and assurance procedures in place during construction.
Decommissioning and dismantling of infrastructure can be facilitated and made less carbon intensive when the design and construction method is modular and flexible. Using modern methods of construction (MMC) can allow materials to be reused and adapted, reinforcing circular economy principles.
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