As the saying goes, time is money – in the construction industry, where keeping the deadlines is of outmost importance, this saying is exponentially true. The actor who can shorten the duration of the works can gain a significant competitive advantage. According to the presentation of Attila Szepesházi, technical manager of HBM Soletanche Bachy at the Property Investment Forum 2021 conference, a construction project can be shortened by months during the foundation of buildings if civil engineers are involved in the project right from the start.
Significance of the early project phase
“The question is how we can strengthen the synergy between civil engineering and real estate development,” began Attila Szepesházi with a rhetorical question. “In civil engineering, a process started in the 190s and 2000s, which we describe as the so-called “smiling curve,” representing the declining added value of the middle (manufacturing) phase of a project” he continued. It is worth knowing that during a project (be it a construction project) most of the added value is created at the beginning (research, development, planning) and at the end (image design, sales, marketing).
“Our company group in the early and middle 2000s started to shift in the direction of not only being a professional contractor, but also aiming to represent this early project phase as strongly as possible, since this is where we can provide the greatest added value to our customers” explained the technical manager.
Szepesházi emphasized that projects carried out together with developers can be successful if relatively little energy is required for change management and if, thanks to good preparation, the customer can focus on building construction. “In order for the civil engineering phase to proceed as planned, and successfully so, the site preparation is very important,” he stressed.
The presentation revealed that if civil engineers can join in the early stages of the project, they can save up to months on construction work – for example, during the development of GTC Pillar’s office building, they managed to save two of the planned 8 months.
Sustainability and civil engineering
Sustainability is an increasingly important issue these days – and each industry must respond in its own way. According to Attila Szepesházi, HBM Soletanche Bachy, for example, has set sustainability goals for 2030: “our primary goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of our construction work by 40% by 2030.”
Another important aspect is the protection of natural wildlife and responsible waste management, such as the use of circular waste management,” he added. “Most of the carbon emissions from the construction work, almost half, come from concrete production, including cement production – the goal is to halve the cement content of concrete at first and to produce cement-free concrete within a few years,” explained Szepesházi. The company is also planning a digital application to support sustainability. The so-called “waste marketplace” helps bring construction parties together so that demolition waste from one party is used as an important raw material by another.