Construction, Sustainability, and Smart Cities

I have said it time and time again. Sustainability is going to impact every business in the construction industry—from the way we manage our business, to the methods we use to track and maintain our fleets, to the very structures we are building.
Today, we are seeing an interesting confluence of factors colliding: the rise of smart cities, the move toward greater sustainability, and new transportation trends, including EVs (electric vehicles)—all of which could come together to transform the way we live and operate our businesses in the future.
While we have seen a number of growth predictions slow due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Technavio still predicts the EV charging station market is poised to grow by 33% between 2019 and 2023. It does recognize the market is fragmented, but also states the demand for energy-efficient vehicles will be instrumental in driving the growth of the market.
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Rushil Goel, vice president and general manager, fleet management, Samsara, to chat about all of this and the future of fleets in general. One key takeaway is this: some fleets are really looking at electric vehicles, as the total cost of ownership is getting to the point where in some cases it is actually cheaper to be operating an electric vehicle in a lot of ways.
He also explained that the company’s core value drivers are: safety, efficiency, and sustainability, with a long-term goal of identifying how it can positively impact businesses and help them optimize all these things.
Here at Constructech, we also recognize that sustainability is a growing trend for many businesses and it is interesting to see how Samsara is approaching this both for its customers and for its own business. Goel explains how its sustainability initiatives fall into a few different buckets.
“……Honestly one of our most direct impacts, is if we can help our customers reduce the amount of fuel they’re using or help them move to electric vehicles, which fundamentally would help reduce carbon emissions,” he says.
Goel points to one example of a customer based out of Illinois that was able to reduce its fuel spend/fuel mileage by about 2-3% for a year, which is massive. That adds up to about 150,000 gallons of fuel savings on an annual basis.
“So there’s a continuous journey there of actually helping them realize the impact from the data that they’re collecting or the insights that they’re collecting,” he says.
The other side, he says, is the company’s own impact. He explains that it is looking at its own supply chain in order to make sure that the company’s footprint is minimal. Also, it is thinking about its production and manufacturing processes and how it can incorporate processes as well. Finally, it is looking at its facilities and making sure it has sustainability initiatives in mind.
Still, there was one big takeaway from our conversation that could have big implications for the future of smart cities. He says, “With our data you can certainly help individual fleets optimize efficiency, optimize safety, and so on. What we’re starting to see … is how we can use that data at a more aggregate level even to understand things like where they may be in accidents that are happening in a city, right? Or areas of idling, and so on. So some of those areas are things that we’re certainly exploring as well.”
There is a big opportunity here for the Internet of Things to drive sustainability and safety and the concept of smart cities. Now, it is time to take that next step forward. Where are you seeing the biggest impact for sustainability in your business?