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Reducing diesel emissions from construction: best-practice case studies

The construction sector has developed and put in place a variety of approaches to reduce diesel emissions from their equipment, improving air quality and health for those who live and work near construction projects.

Investing in reducing emissions from diesel construction equipment can deliver many benefits – healthier people, more efficient and better maintained equipment, fuel and cost savings and improved environmental performance overall.

Presented here are case studies contributed by the construction sector, showcasing innovative and effective approaches to reducing diesel emissions. These have been compiled through a collaboration of the EPA and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia.

Does your agency or company have experience in tackling diesel emissions from construction equipment? Email us at

Case study: Sydney Metro Northwest Tunnels and Station Civil Project

This case study illustrates strategies used in a major infrastructure project to reduce diesel emissions, based on engineering design, procurement and behavioural change.

Case study: Blacktown City Council

This case study illustrates strategies implemented by a local council to reduce diesel emissions by retrofitting in-service equipment, alternative fuels and behaviour change approaches.

Case study: Solar Power at Commodore Mine, Queensland

Solar power at Commodore Mine, Queensland

The solar power system at Commodore Mine, Queensland - six solar panels connected to a container which houses the batteries. Photo courtesy of Downer.

This case study illustrates the use of solar power to reduce diesel and CO2 emissions and demonstrates that incorporating renewable power supply at construction sites can reduce diesel emissions and provide wider benefits.

Downer identified an opportunity to reduce diesel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by using an off-grid power system at the field crib hut at Commodore Mine.

The crib hut had previously been fully powered by a diesel generator. The off-grid power system results in the diesel-powered generator being used only as a back-up to solar energy. This means it only runs for a couple of hours each night.

The system consists of six solar panel banks connected to a containerised battery bank. The solar panels run the crib hut and charge the battery bank during sunlight hours. During darkness, the stored energy in the batteries is used and if it is depleted, the diesel-powered generator automatically starts until the solar panels generate energy again. It is estimated that this system has resulted in a 65–80% reduction in diesel and carbon dioxide emissions. Opportunities to utilise this off-grid power system at other projects will be investigated.

Ways to reduce non-road diesel emissions from construction projects

  • Purchase engines that conform with the highest available US/EU standards (or other international standards).
  • Only use fuel that conforms with national fuel standards.
  • Ensure engines are correctly repaired and maintained.
  • Improve an engine’s emission performance by fitting it with an exhaust-after treatment device.
  • Restrict unnecessary engine idling.
  • Locate plant and equipment away from sensitive populations (e.g. schools, hospitals, child-care facilities) or use best-performing equipment near these areas.
  • Locate plant and equipment away from residential areas and, when onsite work occurs near residential borders, restrict access for non-essential vehicles and machinery.
  • Avoid the onsite use of diesel- or petrol-powered generators by substituting mains electricity or battery powered equipment where possible.

Contact us

If you would like more information about best-practice management of diesel emissions or have a case study to contribute, please email

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Page last updated: 07 September 2016