Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sweden Trials Europe’s First All-Electric Building Site – What Will it Mean for Global Construction?

silhouette of people standing on tower crane during night time

Few countries around the world are as renowned for their levels of innovation as Sweden, with this borne out by the World Intellectual Property Organization’s annual ‘Global Innovation Index’.

According to last year’s findings, Sweden actually ranked as the world’s third most innovative country (behind Switzerland and USA), thanks largely to its popularity among tech startups and the nation’s modern approach to education and its level of investment in business infrastructure.

Of course, innovation can also manifest itself in a number of different ways, with one Swedish municipality having recently begun trailing Europe’s first ever all-electric building site.

But what’s behind this unique and eye-catching project, and what will it mean for Sweden’s push for carbon neutrality?

Building for the Future – How Sweden is Electrifying Construction

The project itself will take place in Östersund, where work has already begun on building a kindergarten to house up to 144 pupils. The existing, more traditional structure only has a capacity of 54 students, while the work is being undertaken and overseen by Fossilfritt Sverige (Fossil-Free Sweden).

This is a government-backed agency that was established back in 2015, with a view to coordinating Sweden’s transition to renewable energy. This has inspired the decision to create a project that will only make use of electrical equipment, with this being the first endeavour of its type in the EU.

Make no mistake; this is a significant flagship project for Fossilfritt Sverige, who are striving to increase the pace with which Sweden (and particularly its construction sector) transitions to renewable energy usage. Östersund itself has set a target of achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2030, with the electrification of construction sites thought to be a relatively simple (and effective) step towards accomplishing this objective.

Fossil-Free Sweden have previously revealed that Sweden’s construction and real estate sector as a whole accounts for around 20% of the country’s total emissions, with on-site work machines responsible for most of these. So, deploying emission-free equipment will have a huge impact on driving sustainability in construction and directly reducing air pollution.

Following a preliminary study by Skanska, which remains one of Sweden’s biggest and most influential companies, 95% of the on-site machines will be completely electrified, with this likely to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 64 tonnes compared with a more traditional approach to construction.

This will represent a seismic shift in the industry, while the current estimate is that construction will be completed in the third quarter of 2025.

The Last Word

Of course, Sweden is already a trailblazer in the fields of sustainability and ESG, with GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions having decreased markedly in recent years.

Because of this, an exceptionally low share of the population is exposed to harmful levels of air pollution too, although the nation’s construction and real estate sector remains responsible for a significant portion of the harmful emissions that are produced.

However, the all-electric construction project in Östersund could represent significant change within this marketplace, while also making the concept of carbon neutrality a little more attainable.