How one Qatari construction giant is building a more sustainable future

Published on January 9, 2023
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With the Middle East at the forefront of innovation in the buildings and construction industry, companies around the region are using various tools to optimise waste, carbon emissions and the use of resources across project lifecycles.

Among them is HBK Contracting. The Qatari construction firm and the contractor behind the first fully demountable football stadium in FIFA World Cup history is a recent participant in the Living Business programme.

Living Business advises and supports corporate organizations on sustainability and on operating without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.

Construction is a major contributor to global carbon emissions. According to the 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, the sector accounted for 35% of final energy use and 38% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2019.

Not only is the construction industry one of the top users of natural resources, but construction also creates an estimated third of the world's overall waste.

For organisations such as HBK, sustainability is therefore a major imperative. The Qatar-based construction giant has been an active member of the Qatar Green Building Council for over a decade and its participation in the Living Business programme has confirmed the importance of embedding sustainability throughout its processes.

With a growing sustainability department supporting the strategy and roll out of better environmental practices across the organization, HBK Contracting has implemented sustainable design, engineering, and construction practices powered by relevant data to track, measure, and reduce emissions and waste.

“A waste is not a waste unless you waste it,” said Engr. Tushar Mondal, HBK’s Workshop Manager. “At HBK, we worked with this motto for our general waste management for years. Our main goal was optimum reduction, best possible reuse, systematic disposal and maximum recycling. By identifying our waste at the point of generation instead of at the disposal area, we were able to segregate and categorise our waste process properly.”

With help from the Living Business team, HBK Contracting was able to create a comprehensive waste management roadmap followed by a job safety analysis, an aspect-impact analysis and an intensive action plan. This project was mentored by Engr. Raid Hasan, Operation Manager (PMV Affairs) at HBK.

Recycling waste to generate new revenue streams

The firm’s PMV Division collected all the used filters from its construction projects across Qatar, and was able to recycle 100% of them at one of the largest state-of-the-art PMV logistics hubs in the Middle East and North Africa. The 120,000-sq-m PMV hub is located at Al Wakra Logistics Park in Qatar.

Filters comprise the largest quantity of hazardous waste products from construction operations, according to a detailed waste management study by HBK.

“Over 4,500 filters – for oil, fuel, air, and hydraulics – were recycled, thus reducing the quantity of hazardous waste stored at our facilities. This monthly waste disposal process used to cost us QR40,000, however, we are now making almost QR4,000 per month by selling recyclable steel extracted from the filter body after dismantling and segregating into three parts: steel body, strainer and filter paper,” added Mondal.

Among its initiatives to reduce its environmental footprint, the company has recycled several tonnes of hydraulic hoses, wood, aluminium, copper, scrap steel, and thousands of lead acid batteries. It has also implemented digital fleet route optimisation techniques. These efforts have won HBK the 2022 Living Business Award for Best ESG Project in Qatar in the general waste management category.

Mondal said: “We are truly honoured to win this valuable prize alongside prizes for the Best General Waste Management project and Best Employee Wellbeing project. Awards and accolades from authoritative entities only confirm that we are on the right track.”

HBK also has numerous achievements to its credit. The construction firm recently earned the ISO 29001 certificate. Other distinctions include the Green Award by Public Works Authority- ASGHAL and the International Safety Award by the British Council.

For HBK, sustainability is a journey, not a destination, Engr Raid said. Now the company is looking at new ways to further its environmental goals.

“Practising sustainability is a continuous and collective effort. We are currently closely monitoring the technical benefit, and cost-effectiveness, and refining our processes all over our workshop. We are expecting further improvements in this area by December 2023 and are actively putting effort to replace generators at our workshops with electricity supplied by Kahramaa only until we install solar panel grids to completely power our office and workshops,” Engr. Raid concluded.

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