CCC brings together stakeholders to discuss international collaboration

In what could prove to be a first but significant step forward, participants at a recent Construction Climate Challenge seminar took the opportunity to meet and discuss possible international collaboration for making infrastructure more sustainable.

“Just in Sweden alone, we see that there are several different initiatives who are all doing similar things, and we should start talking to each other,” said Stefan Uppenberg, Multidisciplinary Project Manager, WSP, in his opening address. “The aim of this meeting is to look at how one can collaborate and create synergies. Just by sharing experiences and knowing what each of us is doing, is quite a big step forward.”

The meeting took place in Gothenburg, Sweden on 18th June, on the eve of the Construction Climate Challenge’s Summit ‘The road to carbon neutral infrastructure’ hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment and Sweden Green Building Council. The attendees were from Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and the UK, with both the private and public sectors represented, including advocacy groups, NGOs, government departments and academia.

“I think we’re at a perfect storm if we can mobile ourselves between public, private, and not-for-profit, to create the best possible outcome,” said Paul Toyne, strategic sustainability advisor and one of the discussion’s participants. “For that to happen, we need to prioritize and collaborate, so I’m delighted to be here because that is the purpose of the meeting.”

It didn’t take long for participants to find a lot of commonality on many issues, namely the need for common guidelines, targets and deadlines; and the need to share best practices and knowledge.

“Speaking as an engineer of 30 odd years, we are not good at shouting about our achievements,” said Ian Nicholson, from British environmental research institute BRE. “If we all started shouting a bit more about our achievements, we’d all start to see what is possible.”

Overall, the most important consensus to come out of the meeting was that improved international collaboration was indeed needed. “Firstly, we need a common method for measuring carbon, because if you can’t measure it, you can’t do anything,” said Chris Newsome, Chair of the Green Construction Board Infrastructure Working Group in the UK. “We also need an agreement on science-based targets and a common approach to those targets. This will require international collaboration.”

A staggering $350 trillion is to be invested solely in urban infrastructure globally by 2050. How to build it in a carbon neutral manner was the challenge faced by some of the industry’s most influential thinkers at the international Construction Climate Challenge (CCC) Summit in Gothenburg 19 June.


The focus for the latest CCC Summit – hosted by the Volvo Construction Equipment initiative Construction Climate Challenge and Sweden Green Building Council – was the need to eliminate embedded and operational carbon from our global infrastructure. Leading industry figures from construction, academia and authorities gathered at the Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg to show how managing carbon emissions are the responsibility for all sectors of the industry.

Terri Wills, CEO of World Green Building Council, who spoke at the event, said: “We have a real issue with climate change and we all have a responsibility. While operational emissions are starting to go down thanks to a range of innovative solutions, the bad news is that emissions from building and construction is now going up and it’s a global issue. We need to not only work on solutions ourselves but convince the rest of the world.”

Independent environment expert Dr Paul Toyne, who moderated the summit added: “CO2 concentrations are the highest they’ve ever been. If we are to tackle the catastrophic impact of climate change we are looking at the huge challenge of reducing CO2 by 14 to 19 gigatons a year. We need to rethink our systems, have new approaches to design and employ innovations in material science.”

Momentum is already growing across Europe. Sweden’s new Climate Act came into force 1 January 2018 joining other countries, such as the United Kingdom, who have been pioneering their own Climate Acts. The new Act will impact on all sectors of society, including the building and infrastructure sectors. Within these sectors several initiatives are under way and more will come to manage carbon emissions. The ultimate goal of the summit is carbon neutrality.

Agneta Wannerström, Senior Manager for Carbon Neutrality, of Skanska Sweden, discussed her work leading on the Roadmap for a Carbon Neutral Building and Infrastructure Sector, a framework to help all parties reach carbon neutral goals by 2045. She explained that 68 key players have already signed up, adding: “Clients want carbon neutrality and as a contractor we want to deliver. This (roadmap) is a game changer and we can be the ones to say to our children we helped to make infrastructure carbon neutral.”


As well as frameworks like this, the need to engage across the supply chain, set up financial incentives, push for green design and look for innovative construction models, such as reusing material and building off-site, were highlighted as potential solutions.


Mats Landén, WWF Sweden’s Head of Corporate Partnerships, said: “If you want to set science-based targets, you have to start working together and share both the burdens and the benefits.”

Our cities are a major contributor to our global CO2 emissions. According to the World Bank Group, approximately 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are produced through infrastructure – anything from our power plants to our transportation systems. And this is not just from the day-to-day use of these facilities. Carbon is embodied in the entire construction life cycle. This includes the production of materials, the materials themselves, transport, construction all the way through to the full-scale operation and demolition of every piece of infrastructure. However, during the conference several real-life examples showed how reducing carbon also reduces cost.

Other speakers on the day also included industry heavyweights representing both the client’s and the supply chain perspective from Anglian Water, Costain and Arup to the Swedish Transport Administration and Rijkswaterstaat in the Netherlands. Additionally, academics such as Professor Anna Kadefors of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Dr Matthew Brander of the University of Edinburgh Business School also addressed the summit.

Collaboration across the supply chain was cited as one of the major drivers to achieving carbon neutral infrastructure.

Thomas Bitter, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product Portfolio, at Volvo Construction Equipment, said: “We need to explore new ways of working if we are to take industry-wide action that tackles GHG emissions in infrastructure – not only for us but for future generations. This summit was a unique opportunity to come up with real solutions and not just words. Growing investment in infrastructure offers the chance to create a global framework for a more sustainable tomorrow.”

Case studies of the infrastructure projects California High Speed Rail and San Francisco AirTrain Extension have recently been completed in the research project Impres. Interviews along the projects’ value chains have provided valuable input and examples for Impres’ goal of creating guidelines for carbon management through procurement requirements in infrastructure projects.

Stefan Uppenberg, sustainability consultant at WSP Group and project manager for the Impres project, and Daniel Balian, who’s doing his masters thesis at WSP, conducted the interviews.

“We talked with many different people – from politicians and clients to consultants, contractors and suppliers, and asked questions on how requirements are set to reduce green house gas emissions. We also asked about organization, drivers, success factors and challenges,” says Stefan Uppenberg.

The Impres project is co-funded by the Construction Climate Challenge (CCC), hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment and will run for two years. Its over all aim is to contribute to a more efficient implementation of policies and goals for reducing climate impact from the infrastructure sector, especially focusing on procurement requirements.

“It’s too early to talk about any results yet, but many said in our interviews that it is crucial with cooperation between different actors along the value chain and that one important factor for success also is that there are enthusiasts with a strong driving force involved in the projects,” says Stefan Uppenberg.

The result of the Impres project will become recommendations and guidelines collected from best case practices, including the two US cases. Now the Impres project continues its search for new case studies in Australia, the UK and China. The project will also incorporate results from existing case studies made in Sweden.

The Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Tool (CITT) project seeks to develop an open access solution for calculating and managing embodied carbon emissions across the project lifecycle of infrastructure projects. In late April the project conducted its first workshop to introduce the tool to key industry bodies and to gain feedback to develop and improve the tool further.

The workshop saw attendees from across the infrastructure industry spectrum in the UK participate in interactive workshop sessions around the development and deployment of the tool. Discussions on barriers to adoption in the industry provided the research team with key focus areas to further develop their solution.

“A number of large challenges have manifested themselves since the project began. Supply chain events such as this one are crucial in building the will across stakeholder groups to rise to these challenges and provide solutions required to make the project a success. We can’t do it alone”, says Damien Canning, Head of Technical Sustainability at Costain Group and Industry Specialist for Carbon Management for CITT.

His project colleague Dr. Matthew Brander, Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh Business School and Project Manager for CITT continues.

“The workshop was hugely useful in terms of getting industry input to the project. One very positive feature of the workshop was the spirit of collaboration across the participating companies and stakeholders. There is a shared vision that the sector as a whole needs to work together to deliver low carbon practice”, says

During the workshop a ‘landscape’ mapping exercise was undertaken to identify all the existing software, initiatives and standards that either complement or overlap with the project. One of the key challenges identified for the CITT project is that different companies have invested in proprietary software tools and may therefore be reluctant to transition to an alternative.

“Although companies have their own proprietary tools, one of the main benefits of the CITT tool, identified by the workshop participants, is the potential for creating a platform that is common across sector”, says Dr. Matthew Brander.

The CITT project will run for three years. The final tool will pinpoint opportunities to reduce carbon through innovation and supply chain engagement. The project is a close collaboration between academia and the infrastructure sector. The next step is to invite more infrastructure stakeholders engaged on project design and delivery to trial the tool, so that the development team can gain a better understanding of key challenges to address in future iterations. In September a second workshop will be held.

About the CITT project

CITT stands for Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Tool. It is funded by the Construction Climate Challenge (CCC), hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment. The research is jointly performed by the University of Edinburgh Business School, Costain Group and Skanska UK.

Damien Canning

Matthew Brander

Infrastructure projects account for a large portion of the world’s CO2 emissions. One way to reduce the carbon impact is to implement sustainability requirements in the procurement process. The research project Implementation of Procurement Requirements for Sustainable Collaboration in Infrastructure (Impres) aims to study how this can be done most effectively.

“It is easy to formulate and state high requirements in the procurement phase, but there is a problem that they are not always fulfilled in practice and that the follow-up is lacking,” says Anna Kadefors, Professor at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology and Research Coordinator for the project.

In the building sector today it is more or less standard to require sustainability assessment schemes to ensure that construction projects meet high environmental standards. Similar schemes also have the potential to be used in the procurement process in infrastructure projects, as a basis for establishing and meeting targets, such as reduced climate impact.

The Impres project will run for two years and is co-funded by the Construction Climate Challenge (CCC) initiative hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment. The overall aim of the project is to contribute to a more efficient implementation of policies and goals for reducing climate impact from the infrastructure sector on a global level, specifically focusing on procurement requirements and the role of international systems for sustainability assessment.

“We will perform case studies on infrastructure projects that have implemented requirements for reduced climate impact in four different countries across the world and look at how they set procurement requirements, how they are implemented and followed up,” says Anna Kadefors.

The expected outcomes of the project are practical recommendations and guidelines for projects on how to use procurement requirements to support systematic sustainability management of construction projects.

“We want to take one step further towards creating a common understanding throughout the value chain of how procurement requirements are and can be used for driving the infrastructure sector towards sustainable development,” says Stefan Uppenberg, Sustainability Consultant at WSP Group and Project Manager for the Impres project.

For the industry the project will bring benefits such as reduced climate impact but also reduced cost.

“More companies and actors see that if we are more efficient in the way we work for saving resources and climate, we also save money,” says Stefan Uppenberg.

The research project is co-funded by Construction Climate Challenge (CCC), the Swedish research council Formas through the ProcSIBE project, WSP Group and Skanska. The research is jointly performed by the project partners Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Lund University, WSP Group and Skanska.

In June 2014, Volvo CE initiated the Construction Climate Challenge (CCC), an initiative that works with industry leaders and other stakeholders to promote sustainability across the entire construction industry value chain. In its latest move to make a positive difference four research proposals have been selected to receive funding of an overall amount of 2 million SEK (277, 000 USD). The pre-studies are part of the CCC initiative to facilitate the sharing of environment related knowledge and resources.

From 1 July 2014, research teams had the opportunity to submit research proposals in four key areas as outlined by CCC: circular business models, emerging sustainable technologies, energy efficiency and enablers for change and innovation.

Peter Wallin, Technology Research Manager for Volvo CE, was involved in the selection process and commented: “It’s great to see the interest that the CCC has gathered from researchers from around the world and it was a difficult process to select just four research projects.

“The start of the Volvo Ocean Race is an appropriate setting for what marks the commencement of our challenge to improve how construction affects the environment,” Wallin comments. “We’re looking forward to seeing the results from the pre-studies.”

Having analyzed the submissions and conducted interviews with the academics involved, CCC has selected four pre-study teams to conduct the valuable research over the next nine months. The selected researchers attended the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 launch in Alicante this week, where they gave an overview of their planned research. Below are the selected research groups and a short summary of their pre-study proposals.

Circular business models – working towards a zero carbon footprint Johan M. Sanne, Håkan Stripple, Anders Björk, Bo Sahlberg IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

The objective of this pre-study is to implement circular business models that include the correct life-cycle costs from construction machinery, promoting the procurement of machinery with a low carbon footprint, and promoting carbon-effective ways to use them. The study aims to outline the research needed to implement such business models and ensure carbon footprint and energy calculations are considered. Developing knowledge and incentives for procurement of low carbon machinery, and for efficient use of the machinery, will also play a part in this.

Exploring future energy storage systems for construction applications Aleksandar Matic, Helena Berg, Patrik Johansson, Bengt Steen Chalmers University of Technology

Exploring future technologies is a fundamental part of CCC’s commitment to promote innovation in sustainability. This pre-study will explore the potential of future energy storage systems for applications at construction sites, with the objective of providing a road map for future research and development in this field.

Sustainable construction operations for reduced emissions Jiali Fu, Xiaoliang Ma, Hui Chen, Haris N. Koutsopoulos KTH Royal Institute of Technology

The initiative aims to assess emission impacts from construction processes and emphasize the mitigation of these impacts as an important aspect of operation design and planning. Emissions will be evaluated through detailed construction environment analysis, and researchers will explore policy tools that may reduce emission impacts.

Developing innovation for change – enablers for sustainability Åsa Ericson, Johan Holmqvist, Johan Wenngren Luleå University of Technology

There are three main pillars for sustainability: ecological, economical and social. The challenge is to integrate them into product development and to identify how more sustainable paths can be identified, assessed and decided upon. The study will propose solutions for demonstrating value in innovative engineering projects and, as a result, should present an approach to identify customer values, as well as visualizing how they support (or do not support) the development process for sustainability.

The pre-study teams are required to submit progress reports to the CCC every two months, culminating in a final report. The Construction Climate Challenge Summit will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, in conjunction with the final stop of the Volvo Ocean Race, on 24-25 June 2015, where the teams will present their results.

(Photo: From left to right: Ms. Jiali Fu from the Royal Institute of Technology, Dr. Åsa Ericson from Luleå University of Technology, Dr. Johan M Sanne from Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Peter Wallin, Technology Research Manager for Volvo CE and Dr. Helena Berg from Libergreen)

With funding available of up to SEK 500,000 academic submissions are now being invited for pre-studies or similar projects that support the aims of the Construction Climate Challenge.

Submissions are now being invited for funding of pre-studies or similar projects as part of the Volvo Construction Equipment-hosted Construction Climate Challenge. A global initiative, submissions are encouraged from all continents and people associated with universities, research institutes and similar organizations can apply, with pre-studies being supported with funding of up to SEK 500,000 over a period of nine months.

The Construction Climate Challenge (CCC) is a new initiative whose aim is to drive sustainability throughout the construction industry value chain by creating a dialogue with industry, academics and politicians. The first step in the CCC involves consolidating existing research on environmental management, identifying research that still needs to be carried out and making this information readily available to the wider industry.

Research areas of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • Energy efficiency 
  • Enablers for change and innovation 
  • Circular business model research 
  • Emerging sustainable technologies


The closing date for applications for a pre-study grant is 25th August 2014.

Applications should be maximum of four pages in length and include: study background, problem description, expected results, societal impact and budget.

The funded pre-studies will be officially announced in conjunction to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante, Spain, on October 8, 2014. (The grant receivers will be notified before September 10th.) Subsequently, the funded pre-studies are to submit progress reports to the CCC every two months, culminating in a final report at the end of the pre-study. Successful pre-study teams are also required to attend and present their results at the Construction Climate Challenge Summit, to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, in conjunction with the final stop of the Volvo Ocean Race, on 24-25th June, 2015.

Applications should be sent to


Volvo Construction Equipment is hosting a new initiative working with partners to drive sustainability in the construction industry value chain. The Construction Climate Challenge (CCC) aims to create a dialogue with industry representatives, academics and politicians, as well as providing funding for new research and sharing existing knowledge and resources to help the industry make a difference for generations to come.

General questions

Is this a global initiative?

Yes – climate change is a global phenomenon and addressing the challenge it poses requires the efforts of companies working on a similarly global basis.

What is the mission of CCC?

To create a joint effort in the construction industry to meet the challenge of achieving stable climate conditions for future generations.

What is the objective of CCC?

The CCC is a platform for climate change improvement initiatives with the aim to move the industry towards sustainable solutions. This will be achieved via academic research, knowledge sharing and awareness and engagement.

What role does research play in the CCC?

Research is at the heart of the Construction Climate Challenge. Through supporting and initiating research projects in areas with relevance to our industry, the initiative acts as a bridge between the construction industry and sustainability research. It promotes collaboration between researchers, companies and organizations and publishes research papers and documentation of the projects.

Why launch the CCC now?

Volvo CE – and the whole Volvo Group – has a long history of being at the forefront of environmental improvements in its operations but Volvo recognizes that the best way to counter the effects of climate change is to act in concert with other industry stakeholders.

Is this ‘just’ for the construction equipment industry?

No, CCC embraces the entire value chain of the wider construction industry – from a life cycle perspective. As well as improving our own practices within Volvo CE, the CCC also invites partners throughout the supply chain to participate – suppliers, dealers and customers. Other stakeholders include NGOs, such as the WWF, academia, politicians and the wider society.

Why should Volvo CE ‘host’ the CCC?

Possibly more than any other manufacturer in the industry Volvo has built its reputation on the foundation of environmental care and sustainable development. “As a construction equipment manufacturer we recognize that we can only do so much by focusing on the areas where we have direct impact. Approximately 90% of the climate impact comes from the use of our equipment, and our machines are used in nearly all steps of the construction industry lifecycle.” (Martin Weissburg, CEO, Volvo CE.)

How does CCC relate to the company’s membership of the WWF Climate Savers program?

The CCC is the perfect complement to Volvo CE’s work with the WWF Climate Savers program and its commitment to be a climate leader in the construction equipment industry. Whereas the latter focuses on dramatically bringing down CO2 levels in the short term, the CCC is designed to foster a long-term and widespread culture of sustainability.

Who is the target audience?

As well as looking at our own practices internally (both in manufacturing and the operation of the equipment we produce), the CCC also invites all those in the supply chain to participate – suppliers, dealers and customers. Other stakeholders include trade associations and NGOs (the WWF for example), academia, politicians and the wider society. So whether you are extracting the raw materials at the start of the value chain or recycling materials at the end – and everything in-between – there is an important contribution to be made by all stakeholders in the industry.

How big a contributor is construction to climate change?

Because it touches so many areas of life it’s difficult to put a definitive figure on the impact. But figures published in 2012 showed that the construction industry contributed 20% of global CO2 output. If you just look at the construction equipment industry in Europe that equates to 85 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

In practical terms, what will the CCC actually ‘do’?

The CCC initiative will drive for improvements in the industry’s value chain, raising standards among suppliers and by being a beacon for general improvements in the industry. In practical terms it will create a structured forum that invites dialogue and knowledge-sharing between protagonists who wouldn’t ordinarily meet. It will also host sustainability-focused events and promote and sponsor research.

How long until we see a difference?

While research projects can take many years to conduct and peer review, there are shorter term initiatives that will result in more immediate improvements. Pilot projects will be launched with selected academic partners during 2014.

What is the CCC’s timeframe?

The CCC will work on a three year timeframe, identifying focus areas, evaluating results and improvements – and establishing focus areas for the next three year cycle.

How will the CCC be promoted?

In order to ‘walk the talk’ CCC events will minimise environmental impact by partnering with Volvo CE and CCC partner events. The Volvo Ocean Race is a good example of an event that embodies the values and goals of the CCC, and presents an opportunity to spread the CCC’s central messages of sustainable work practices. CCC events will be held at many of the stopovers the race makes around the world, and the climax of the initiative’s launch year will be the CCC Summit in Gothenburg at the conclusion of the Volvo Ocean Race in June 2015.

Volvo Construction Equipment is hosting a new initiative that will promote sustainability throughout the entire construction industry and provide much-needed funding for environmental research.

Launched on the eve of UN World Environment Day, Volvo Construction Equipment is hosting a new initiative working with partners to drive sustainability across the construction industry. This is not restricted to the manufacture and operation of construction equipment, but rather stretches the length of the construction industry’s value chain, from extraction and production of building materials, to road and general construction, to demolition and recycling. The Construction Climate Challenge (CCC) aims to create a dialogue with industry representatives, academics and politicians, as well as providing funding for new research and share existing knowledge and resources to help the industry make a difference for generations to come.

Mutual obligation

Climate change is not going away – and the entire construction industry has an obligation to do something about it. As former Volvo Group President and CEO, Pehr G. Gyllenhammar said as long ago as 1972, ‘We are part of the problem – but we are also part of the solution’.

The key word here is part. Volvo CE has long been committed to reducing harmful emissions from its products and facilities – environmental care is one of the company’s core values – but reducing CO2 emissions requires a coordinated action from companies across the entire construction industry supply chain.

“We’ve been working on reducing emissions through our own internal initiatives for many years – and to considerable success. In December 2013, for example, we achieved carbon neutrality at our articulated hauler production facility in Braås, Sweden. However, we cannot address climate issues by ourselves,” says Volvo CE President, Martin Weissburg.

“We joined the Volvo Group’s commitment to the WWF Climate Savers program in 2012, becoming the first construction equipment manufacturer to do so – but still that’s not enough,” he adds.

Filling the gaps

The first step in the CCC involves evaluating existing research on environmental management, identifying research that still needs to be carried out and then making this information readily available to interested parties in the industry.

To this end, Volvo CE invited researchers, professors and PhD students from around the world, as well as R&D employees working at the company, to a two-day workshop on climate change in September 2013. The participants determined a total of 112 activities within four research themes, such as sustainable business models, that a working party of Volvo CE employees will now refine and discuss with the other CCC participants.

In the future researchers will be able to apply for funding for projects falling within these themes, while participants will be kept up-to-date with all the latest findings.

“The CCC is the perfect complement to our work with the WWF Climate Savers program and our commitment to be a climate leader in the construction equipment industry,” says Weissburg. “Whereas the latter focuses on dramatically bringing down CO2 levels in the short term, the CCC is designed to foster a long-term widespread culture of sustainability.”

Impactful research – today

Commissioning and implementing environmental research is not just a dream for the future, however. Volvo CE is already funding studies within its own Manufacturing Research department (part of Operations Europe). Anna Sannö, a Volvo employee and industrial PhD student at Mälardalen University, for example, began work on an environmental management project within the CCC’s remit in 2012.

“People are well aware of the evolution of the concept of sustainability in Volvo CE’s products over the years – but improvements to manufacturing methods typically generate much less attention,” says Sannö. “My PhD project involves reviewing how these manufacturing improvements have been implemented at Volvo CE’s production sites since the 1970s – and identifying the factors that have made them a success, so as to replicate them in the future. The project is all about learning from the past to benefit the future – which is also the foundation for the CCC.”

“Our research department has already made a good start but we have a long way to go and realize we can make a bigger impact on climate change if we work together – with academics, politicians and industry peers,” Weissburg concludes. “It is our aim for the CCC to become the default arena for discussion around climate research, project funding and strategy implementation in the construction industry over the next 10 years. If we can achieve this, we can make a useful contribution on reducing the industry’s impact on climate change.”

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