The newly built Road 44 in Sweden
The road 44 was built with a 19 percent carbon emission reduction.

Road built with 19 per cent lower carbon dioxide emissions

Created: January 17, 2020. Updated: January 24, 2020.

When road 44 in Sweden needed to be rebuilt, for the first time the Swedish transport administration decided to set clear climate requirements in the procurement. The construction firm Skanska won the assignment and successfully reduced carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 19 per cent. 

Read the research report about the project here.

Road 44 is an important regional route that connects the E6 in the town of Uddevalla and the E20 at Götene. On the current route between Lidköping and Källby, road 44 previously passed through Filsbäck, where accessibility was low and often congested. Therefore, a new road needed to be built. Now a new meeting-free 2 + 1 road bypasses the community, offering improved accessibility and creating a safer traffic environment. And all this was carried out with reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2016, the Swedish Transport Administration began to impose specific requirements linked to climate change. So, when the road 44 project was procured shortly afterwards, it was natural that it should become a pilot project for the new requirements. The Swedish Transport Administration set carbon reduction prerequisites with an incentive bonus for reducing the climate impact of the project based on a benchmark, against which reductions would be measured and demanded innovative and cost-effective solutions.

“It was like a staircase with different percentages and depending on what per cent you managed to reduce the carbon by, you got a bonus. Ten per cent was the highest level in which case one per cent of the contract sum was awarded,” says Camilla Kahn, project engineer at the Swedish Transport Administration.


Setting a benchmark, the first challenge

The contract went to the construction firm Skanska. For them, it was important to understand early in the project what was the basis of the benchmark value – what quantities and parts would be included.

“It was quite a big challenge to connect with this benchmark and to understand how it was calculated. It turned out that it did not really match the building parts that needed to be used, and together with the Swedish Transport Administration we had to revise the benchmark to find a representative position,” says Nicklas Magnusson, Sustainable Business Developer at Skanska.

“For us, it was a big lesson in why you must engage several competences. The whole value chain must be involved in order to find the best way,” says Camilla Kahn.

After the revision, a benchmark value of 11 475 tons of carbon dioxide was agreed upon.

 

Concrete solutions

In order to achieve the desired carbon reduction, Skanska initiated a number of actions in the construction process. One such measure was varying the thickness of the asphalt depending on the load it would bear.

“When there are two lanes, heavy traffic is in the lane furthest away from the traffic barrier in the middle. This meant that the asphalt layer in the lane closest to the barrier could be thinner. This contributed to a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions,” says Nicklas Magnusson.

In addition, materials and production methods were chosen for their sustainability impact. The majority of the excavators were powered by HVO fuel, and the reinforcing supplier was replaced with one that had better environmental performance.

By the time the project was complete, Skanska had managed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 19 per cent – or 2,200 tons of carbon dioxide – compared to the project’s benchmark value.

“What we can take with us is a lesson on how we can use processes to drive climate work forward during the whole project, from the tendering to the delivery – and knowledge of how far we can go with the climate actions we had in this project. When these types of incentive-driven requirements are set, climate considerations come in earlier and you work sharper with the climate question because more people with different competences work together to find solutions with a low climate impact,” says Nicklas Magnusson.

 

Climate and economy 

A common misconception regarding carbon dioxide reduction measures is that they always involve increased costs for the project. Nicklas Magnusson admits that climate-positive choices may well cost extra. One example from the road 44 project was the transition to HVO fuel.

“On the other hand, if there are bonuses linked to climate performance, you have the opportunity to add extra costs because you can recoup them in another way. Many times, climate and economy also go hand in hand. Finding solutions for reduced material consumption and reduced transport are, for example, directly linked to reduced costs,” he says.

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