New study looks at embodied carbon in construction

Infrastructure procurement must embed circular economy principles, says new report

A report  published by the UK’ Major Infrastructure – Resource Optimisation Group (MI-ROG) states that embedding circular principles in infrastructure projects would generate positive environmental impacts and help build greater resilience in supply chains.

A collective, industry-led approach to procurement in the development of major infrastructure projects across the UK would help achieve a circular economy in the construction sector, it says. The cross-sector report recommends that infrastructure developers include procurement criteria focused on the circular economy from the outset of projects – a  vital period which provides the “greatest opportunities” to deliver optimal cost efficiencies, waste and carbon reductions.

MI-ROG was founded by AECOM in 2013 as a forum for the UK’s infrastructure operators to collaborate across the circular economy theme and to meet the challenge of delivering major infrastructure in a constrained economy. 

Members include Anglian Water, Centrica, EDF Energy, the Environment Agency, Heathrow Airport, Highways England, HS2, National Grid, Network Rail, Thames Tideway Tunnel and United Utilities.  

The report cites cross-sector partnerships and collective leadership as key to delivering procurement policies which drive the circular transition.

Organisations should work together to develop a consistent approach to procurement across the UK’s pipeline of major infrastructure projects, MI-ROG suggests.

A “whole-life-value” approach of materials throughout the procurement process should be considered, the report states, but it also recognises that cross-sector evaluations of new solutions will be necessary before large infrastructure schemes take on the risk of new materials.

The report highlighst the importance of effective engagements between procurement teams and project managers, as well as between operators and suppliers, to accelerate the adoption of circular economy principles early in the project lifecycle. Uptake could be encouraged through evaluation processes that reward suppliers that demonstrate circular economy approaches, the report recommends.

The majority of European countries have listed construction and demolition waste as key priority materials that need to be focused on in the transition to a circular economy.

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October 27, 2016
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