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.”