HOSTED BY VOLVO CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT
Sweden introduces carbon targets for large infrastructure projects
The biggest impact on carbon emissions generated through large infrastructure projects is surprisingly not emissions from construction vehicles – machinery, excavators, haulers, lorries etc – but it is from the construction materials – concrete, cement, asphalt, reinforced steel which account for almost 50% of the carbon emissions of a project, explained Sustainability Consultant, Stefan Uppenberg (WSP Group) at the CCC seminar ‘Climate Challenges in Infrastructure Projects, at this year’s Bauma trade fair in Munich.
Sweden has already taken action at national level by setting carbon emissions requirements which came into force in February 2016. They apply to all large infrastructure projects (over EUR 5 million) and require a 15% reduction of carbon emissions by 2020 (on 2015 baseline).
The requirements are part of country-wide efforts to achieve a carbon neutral Sweden with zero net emissions by 2050.
“The new specifications are presented as functional requirements,” Uppenberg explains. “It is up to the contractors to decide how they are achieved. The overriding aim of the new requirements is to stimulate improvements in all parts of the value chain.”
Two years ago the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences published a report estimating the carbon emissions from the construction sector. This showed that less than half came from buildings, more than half resulted from civil engineering – building roads, railways, energy plants and other infrastructure projects etc. Vehicles account for around 20-25%.
A recent carbon calculation undertaken for 150 major infrastructure projects in Sweden over the coming 10 years shows that more than half of the total emissions will come from the materials used (including 35% from concrete, 22% from reinforced steel).
Uppenberg who is an adviser to the Swedish Transport Administration says it is vital to start using more low carbon materials in the steel and cement industry to reach the targets for emission reductions.
“It should be possible to achieve 20-25% reductions by 2020, and 50% by 2025 (with further developments),” he says, “just using measures that are available today. Just in the construction and planning phase.
“There is a large potential just by using the available technologies today such as low carbon materials, low emission vehicles, reducing amounts of materials in the planning phase etc.”
Uppenberg has also been a driving force in Sweden for developing the use of sustainability assessment schemes, like CEEQUAL, within the Sweden Green Building Council (SGBC) for clients like Trafikverket (National Transport Administration), Skanska, NCC and other actors in the Swedish civil engineering business.
His focus area is development and implementation of methods, tools and requirements for carbon footprint calculations and environmental product declarations, EPD, based on life cycle assessment, LCA, for infrastructure projects.
The approach of the new government requirements for infrastructure projects is to tell industry what they want, but not tell them how to do it, he says.
The response from industry to the requirements has been very positive.
“There is a lot of enthusiasm about this in industry. Many contractors have already worked with these carbon emission issues for a long time and have the tools for carbon calculations for its projects. Many believe that cutting the use of resources will save money.
Circular economy programme needs greater long-term support says report
A new report has called on European Union institutions to promote resource efficiency beyond the completion of the Circular Economy Package. By learning from best practice scenarios, some €324bn could be added to the EU’s economy…
CCC funded research develops open source tool to promote low carbon construction supply chains
The CCC has funded an innovative project, CCIT, to enable construction contractors to manage their supply chains so as to minimise carbon use. The CITT project has brought together Costain, Skanska and the University of Edinburgh Business…
How the new PAS2080 standard is promoting low carbon construction
The London Seminar on 14 November on “Implementing PAS2080: Supply Chain Collaboration to reduce the Carbon Footprint and Cost of major Infrastructure Projects’ brought together leading experts and the supply chains of major infrastructure clients and contractors to…
EEA: industry across Europe responsible for over half of key pollutants in air
Industry across Europe is responsible for more than half of all carbon dioxide, particulate matter and other key pollutants emitted into the air, according to updated industrial pollution country profiles published today by the European Environment…