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The Client Challenge

Carbon management in construction faces several challenges as the industry is a significant contributor to carbon emissions. Addressing these challenges is crucial for achieving sustainability goals and mitigating the impact of construction activities on the environment.

Construction materials often carry high embodied carbon due to the energy-intensive processes involved in their production. Finding low-carbon alternatives or improving the efficiency of production processes is a challenge.

The construction industry often involves complex supply chains with multiple stakeholders, making it challenging to track and manage carbon emissions throughout the entire lifecycle of a project. Coordinating efforts amongst various suppliers and subcontractors is essential.

There is a lack of standardised methods for assessing and reporting carbon emissions in construction projects. This makes it difficult to compare and benchmark different projects and impedes the establishment of consistent industry-wide goals.

Low-carbon alternatives and sustainable construction practices can sometimes be more expensive than traditional methods. This cost barrier can deter some stakeholders from adopting carbon management practices, especially in highly competitive markets.

Adopting new technologies that reduce carbon emissions, such as advanced construction materials and innovative building techniques, can face resistance due to concerns about their reliability, performance, and the initial investment required.

Obtaining accurate and comprehensive data on the carbon profile of construction projects can be difficult. This is due to factors such as the lack of standardised data collection methods and the reluctance of some stakeholders to share information.

Our Solution

In 2022, one of our clints started to measure the carbon emissions of its individual projects using our Emissions Management Impact Tool (EMIT), an in-house-developed construction carbon management software platform. 

This allowed the compilation of  baseline carbon estimates for projects during the planning stage from which actual carbon emissions could be tracked, targeting high emitting materials and activities to reduce project carbon footprint. Planning, tracking and monitoring of  scope 1,2 and 3 carbon emissions across all types of construction activity became possible including materials (virgin, reused and recycled), plant and machinery, equipment, transport of staff, plant, and materials (road, rail, sea, and air), utilities (electricity, gas, water), and waste disposal.

On one project, during the planning phase, our client  estimated that the project carbon footprint would be 432 Te CO2e.

Beneficial Outcomes

In using this data to target high carbon emitting materials and activities, the client reduced the actual carbon footprint of the project to 357 TeCO2e – representing a reduction of 75 Te CO2e (17%).

Measures employed in this achievement included increasing efficiency of its plant operations to reduce running times (saving fuel), re-using a larger proportion of ironwork (less virgin cast iron), replacing standard ‘hot’ materials with low temperature alternatives (less carbon associated with the materials production/ heating process), and monitoring/ minimising engine idling time across the plant and vehicle fleet (reduction in fuel consumption).

By actively managing its carbon footprint, our client demonstrated a commitment to environmental responsibility too. This enhanced its corporate social responsibility profile, appealing to environmentally conscious clients, investors, and employees. Carbon management through optimised resource use, waste reduction, and promotion of circular economy principles also improved resource efficiency, leading to cost savings and a more sustainable approach to construction.

Integrating carbon management into its business strategy ultimately positioned our client to better navigate the challenges of a changing climate and evolving regulatory landscape in contribution to long-term business resilience.