A Project Manager’s Guide to Net Zero

As Australia’s construction industry is moving towards Net Zero, there’s a growing expectation to implement alternative power solutions into site projects. But what does this mean for project managers?

As a project manager, you spend your day answering questions, solving problems, and are the “go-to” for anything and everything site and project related. So, we got our Renewables expert, Tristan, to share some valuable insight about how Net Zero can impact your site, flag some common assumptions, and help you implement renewables into your site cost-effectively.

Let’s dive in.  

What Key Issues Do Project Managers Face?

As much as a “cookie cutter” approach is what we’re always looking for, there are some site-specific requirements we sometimes need to consider.  

Space and time are usually two issues project managers commonly face.  

Firstly, there is usually never enough space for a project manager to place their existing plant required for the job – let alone add in some ‘bulky’ solar panels and whatnot. So we need to be clever and look at different alternatives. For example, can we pair a BESS unit with a generator? Is there another option? We always have to take the time to understand the operations to find a more efficient way of distributing energy. That’s why customising a solution is always preferred over providing a stock standard bundle.  

For example, the AMPD Enertainer is specifically designed to remove multiple generators from the site and reticulate power back to one source.  

Secondly, all construction projects work towards a tight deadline.  

Construction projects are usually highly built up in residential areas. This often results in disgruntled residents because of diesel generators plugging away at night to keep pumps/site facilities running.  

However, with equipment designed for cleaner energy, we can utilise timing features on a BESS unit to program the diesel generators to come on during the final hours of sunlight. This provides that final “top up” to allow the BESS to silently power the loads overnight.

4 Common Assumptions Project Managers Should Look Out For

We get it. Anyone in the industry long enough has their own tips and tricks they rely on to get the job done quickly, easily, and without fuss. In most cases, you’re going through the same process over and over again: there’s a budget to adhere to, stakeholders to answer to, a tight deadline, and tradies eager to get the job done. But sometimes leaning on worn-out habits or taking the “easy” route can lead to making assumptions and long-term consequences. 

Here are 4 common assumptions we come across every day  

Assumption 1#: Assuming What Worked Last Time Will Work This Time

The number one assumption that we regularly see is carrying generation assets from a previous site, thinking it will work on the current site  

It’s the old-time assumption that “it can’t be that different this time around”. It happens more frequently than you think.  

For example, a project manager will bring across a 200kVA generator from the last job assuming that it will get the same outcome on this job.  

This usually results in large generators operating at very low loads most of the time. In fact, we have seen instances where a 150 kVA generator is running on an average load of 9 kVA. This causes huge maintenance issues with the generator and also burns a lot of unnecessary fuel.  

Assumption 2#: Assuming Solar is the Only Way to Decarbonise

People also tend to think they do not have the space for renewables.  

There’s a general consensus that solar is one of the only ways to patch in renewables to your project (hint: it’s not). Solar is not required to decarbonise, and we know this with the practice of cycle charging 

In some cases, we have sites replacing multiple generators with one Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) unit.  

Assumption 3#: It's Too Hard to Add Renewables to Existing Projects

People usually rely on the phrase “we only have 6 months left” to opt out of finding efficiencies in their power generation mix. It is easier to just see the project out than make some changes.  

Nothing is further from the truth – batteries are often highly mobile and can connect to your site quickly. In fact, it has never been easier to add a component of renewable energy into the mix onsite. 

Assumption 4#: Lowering Project Emissions = Lower Profitability

Lastly, renewable energy sources have a cost stigma against them. That is, because the production of renewable energy in the past decade has been expensive, then there’s going to be a trade off with profitability. This is far from the truth.

For instance, we worked with Mutliplex’s mixed use development, The Grove. Multiplex was in need of a low emission option to power their large-scale construction site. We recommended our AMPD Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) as a replacement for diesel fuel.

There was a total of 80% fuel savings as well as an overall 85% reduction of on-site emissions.

Find out more about using BESS on Multiplex’s ‘The Grove’ here.

Implementing Renewables into Your Energy Mix. Where Should You Start?

Implementing renewables into your energy mix is not as difficult as you may think. It really only takes three simple steps:  

Step One: Monitor & Assess

First step is to monitor and assess.  

 Really get to know your site, gather load data and look for ways to install more energy efficient appliances. I believe it’s the best way to understand and manage what you have before you spend a lot of money on renewables that may be oversized because of inefficient appliances and/practices on site.  

You’d be surprised by how much it happens.  

Step Two: Research

Next step: research.  

 Start doing some research on robust renewable energy systems that have a proven capability in your particular sector. Many yards around Australia are full of energy generating equipment that have ended up on the scrap heap earlier than expected because of the site’s harsh condition.  

Step Three: Reach Out

Once you do the groundwork, all you need to do is to reach out to a specialised Net Zero Equipment supplier like Blue Diamond Machinery. From here, you can discuss the ins and outs of your site, the scope of work and we’ll do the rest.  

Implementing Net Zero is easier than it sounds. It all starts with a conversation.  

What's the Biggest Consideration to Be Aware Of?

One of the biggest considerations is the support your supplier will offer. 

 As a project manager, efficiency and “up time” is your best bet for meeting the budget requirements for a project. Here are some tips to have under your belt during your search:  

  • Quiz suppliers on their experience and understanding of your requirements  
  • Make sure they understand that if an energy asset goes down, there may be lost production onsite for a large number of people (this is when the money really starts mounting up).  
  • Make sure your supplier can meet your expectations ( and ensure you set the bar high).  
  • Ensure your chosen supplier can meet your responsiveness and quality commitment  

These points are key to ensuring you are not changing out equipment (and suppliers!) half way through the project.  

What are the Benefits of Implementing Renewable Power Sources?

With the push to meet sustainability targets, renewable power sources helps project managers minimise the site’s carbon footprint, lower fuel consumption and reduce noise pollution. Here’s some of the key benefits you can expect by implementing Net Zero Equipment into your energy mix:

Less Carbon, More Fuel Saving

One benefit everyone talks about is the obvious carbon/fuel saving – this is the primary goal of Net Zero after all. Net Zero equipment like BESS and hybrid power systems guarantee less diesel particulate matter (DPM), along with other nasty emissions like Nitrate Oxide and CO2. We can also talk about fuel savings, they tend to speak for themselves once people see them.  

Funnily enough, the only issue I’ve come across with this is that site personnel tend to forget to fuel the generators because it becomes a less common task! 

Read more on the benefits of BESS for construction sites here.

Site Behaviour

One benefit of Net Zero we found quite interesting is the behavioural change among the client’s personnel.  

Once a system has been installed and the site managers start getting live data feeds onto their phone via an app, we see a shift in behaviour. People start making an effort to turn off appliances overnight that create significant power savings and enable to battery storage to last longer into the night.  

People take ownership of their construction site and ensure aircons are either off or operating at a more energy efficient set point etc. This was an unexpected benefit that allowed some of the systems we modelled to see far greater fuel savings. 

It Bolsters Your Industry Expertise

The data will change your future outlook. 

Once you start seeing and harvesting the live data and build a profile over the life of the project, you will find it easier to size up future project requirements. This means you can ensure you are deploying the most efficient generation assets every time. 

You will see significant fuel savings in your budget that may be available for you to distribute to others areas to make up shortfalls. It also means you’ll be better able to identify generator/asset issues onsite while being proactive with maintenance, resulting in less costly downtime.  

Achieve Lower Emissions On Your Next Project. Get In Touch Today.

A quick enquiry to Blue Diamond and our Net Zero Team can assist with guiding you through some of the steps above (particularly the analysis of existing systems). 

With years of industry experience, Blue Diamond Machinery is heavily investing in smarter alternative power solutions for construction sites. Take the first steps to reduce your onsite emissions easily without compromising on time, budget or efficiency. Blue Diamond is ready to support your first steps and help project managers transition to smarter technologies for a smarter operation. Get in touch today