The ROI of Air Quality Monitoring on Construction Sites

Apr 28, 2024 | Blog

For companies in the construction industry, air quality monitoring is often viewed as an unnecessary expense – a “nice-to-have” sustainability initiative with unclear returns on investment. However, poor air quality has proven hidden costs that can impact construction sites’ bottom lines and throw the project off schedule.

Investing in robust, real-time air quality monitoring pays concrete dividends by increasing operational efficiency, reducing risks, and avoiding major costs associated with pollution.

Also imagine having an air quality monitoring solution that did all the detection and investigation work for you.


Competitive Advantage in Bids

Sustainability commitments are increasingly required criteria to even qualify for public and private sector construction projects. Firms are now also recommended to set expectations early on around their sustainability commitments during a project. Air quality monitoring demonstrates a tangible commitment to this goal and a competitive advantage.

Monitoring strengthens bids by showcasing sustainability credentials and initiatives. We speak with contractors every day who report air quality monitoring and abatement initiatives are becoming more important to winning bids.


Progress Towards Internal Sustainability Targets

For construction firms with internal air quality and emissions reduction targets, monitoring serves as a management tool to track progress and demonstrate tangible reductions.

For example looking at the sustainability targets set by many of the large construction firms we see some significant promises and targets. Kier Group is targeting “net-zero across its own operations and supply chain by 2045” while Balfour Beatty are looking to go “beyond” net zero by 2040 and follow science-based Target Initiative

Rather than long-term and high-level projections, real-time local pollution data enables accurately reporting sustainability KPI improvements to leadership and external stakeholders. This accountability ensures internal initiatives stay on track.

The most useful monitoring provides actionable insights to drive real emissions reductions, not just data for glossy reports. Consider what will equip your team with the visibility to continually improve sites and hit air quality targets through better operational decisions.


Prioritising Investments

Monitoring provides the data to know where to invest for maximum emissions and air quality ROI. Without monitoring, reduction initiatives are guesses. But armed with data identifying the worst polluting vehicles, activities, or materials, investments can be precisely allocated to initiatives that provide the greatest impact and payback.

We have seen many great examples of this while monitoring on site. For example, at a site in South London dust pollution started to spike considerably. This was a concern for the site manager as it risked compliance issues, complaints, and also health exposure risks. By using EMSOL, they were able to quickly identify the cause of the particulate dust pollution and achieve a 71% reduction on pollution spikes.

Monitoring allows you to accurately calculate the potential ROI for pollution reduction investments and understand your most effective “£ per pollution reduction”.


Project Delays and Shutdowns

Project delays can be caused by a range of factors. Estimates suggest that 10 to 30% of projects experience some level of delay, this can become incredibly costly for the parties involved.

“..delays can cost companies up to 20% more than the original estimated cost. While only a small number reported a “cost greater than 50%, but then when you’re talking in millions, even 10% is going to be an unpleasant surprise.” Report.

With mounting concern around air quality, it is possible that excessive air pollution could have the potential to cause project shutdowns and delays when sites exceed permitted thresholds. Proactive monitoring enables early identification and mitigation of pollution sources before thresholds are reached. This minimises the risk of project issues.

When evaluating air quality monitoring technology, embrace the mindset that it’s not just an operational cost, but rather an investment that produces tangible ROI through efficiency gains, risk reduction, and avoided costs in multiple areas. While good for sustainability and communities, monitoring ultimately benefits the bottom line – and quickly pays for itself many times over.


At EMSOL, our real-time air quality monitoring, analytics, and camera insights enable construction firms to achieve the ROI benefits of cleaner air. To learn more about how our solution delivers value for construction sites, schedule a demo today to see our monitoring technology in action. Our team can provide tailored assessments of how EMSOL can start driving returns for your sites.

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