Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) To Help Carbon Emissions In Construction

Posted by Katie Donnelly, Graduate Recruitment Consultant on Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Carbon emission rates have long-since shadowed the construction industry sector. However a recently completed trial of a new alternative could soon change the relationship between construction and environment drastically.

The need for a low-carbon, greener approach is becoming increasingly apparent, no less so than in the construction industry sector. Currently in the UK, 10% of carbon dioxide emissions are directly linked to the construction sector. When including the built environment sector this figure rises to 45%. The largest cause of these high rates is through oil and red diesel consumption; BAM Construction reported 70% of their carbon footprint came through their use of red diesel alone. Additionally, the announcement that the construction sector will no longer be permitted to use red diesel by April 2022 has led to much contention. The search for new and sustainable fuel is a key issue, but it is one that could soon be solved by a new fuel contender.

HVO (Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil) has shown a promising alternative for use on construction jobsites, with the longest trial of use having been completed by GAP Hire Solutions after two years.

So, what does this mean for the construction sector?

The trial found that the switch from diesel to HVO did not require much change at all, reporting it was also safe to use without the need to integrate new tanks or different machinery. In fact, GAP reported that the diesel tanks did not even require cleaning before switching. According to Crown Oil, adopting the use of HVO will immediately reduce emissions by 90%, helping all construction companies to get closer to a net-zero carbon goal. Additionally, this focus on environmentally friendly construction work could help those looking to start a career in the construction sector, as those with backgrounds related to environmentally friendly practices in construction will have an obvious advantage. The best construction companies to work for are those already making the switch in advance of the April 2022 deadline, prioritising the change early and providing plenty of times to explore the new method.

However, HVO is currently being taxed at the same rate as white diesel, making it more expensive per litre by 15%. Although the government is looking to lower this rate in order to appeal to more construction companies, it’s important to look at what can be done in the meantime to lower CO2 emissions.

An emphasis could be placed on encouraging more collaboration between client side and contractor engineers, quantity surveyors, and project managers. From the inclusion of life-cycle costing to post-occupancy evaluation as part of standard practice in the industry, this collaboration will ensure each aspect of a job is being considered in the most environmentally friendly way. Much of this change will occur over the coming year in order to meet the 2022 deadline and will be focused on lessening the industry’s adverse impression on climate change.

Whilst many of the existing commitments to an ozone-friendly approach are positive, the implementation of more sustainable methods is vital and the need for quick action in carrying out the switch to HVO.

Katie Donnelly
Graduate Recruitment Consultant