Rental is the perfect circular model, reveals ERA study

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Rental of construction equipment ticks all the boxes in fulfilling circular economy principles and is, therefore, the perfect circular model, according to a study commissioned by the European Rental Association (ERA).

The study was conducted by three independent research providers - Climate Neutral Group, CE Delft, and SGS Search. The main objective was to take a closer look at the impact of rental on the carbon footprint of construction equipment and identify how to minimise its carbon footprint through independent analysis. Ten pieces of construction equipment from several manufacturers were analysed for the research. They were carefully selected to represent a wide variety of popular equipment categories including earthmoving, material handling, powered access, power generation, and hand tools.

The outcome not only shows that renting construction equipment helps reduce carbon emissions, but also that these reductions can be significant, ranging from 30% to as much as 50% depending on how the equipment is used.

The study identifies that renting equipment lowers carbon emissions in the following ways:

  • Equipment adequacy: renting ensures the right equipment is used for the job. By providing a wide range of products to choose from, it enables contractors to use the best machine for the task.
  • Optimised transport: rented equipment travels shorter distances (rental branches are usually close to construction sites), and delivery trucks rarely travel back empty (as rented equipment is picked up at the same time other is delivered). This combined with the fact that truck size and load factors are optimised significantly reduces fuel use and emissions from transport.
  • Utilisation rate: renting maximises the utilisation rate of each piece of equipment and increases fuel consumption efficiency per hour of use.
  • Maintenance: rented equipment is very well-maintained, which increases their efficiency and lifetime.

Michel Petitjean, Secretary-General of the ERA, said: “Our industry is perfectly placed to drive future
discussions on how to further improve the sustainability of construction equipment. To this end, we have identified several areas for further efficiency gains, including making responsible fuel and alternative energy choices, optimising logistics and the transportation of construction equipment, and recovering most materials by ensuring proper recycling and repairs.”

A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the building and construction sector must decarbonise by 2050 to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In this context, the use of construction equipment is one of the areas where the climate impact can be minimised – which is where rental enters into play.

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