11 January 2017

A Business School research partnership with Costain Group has been granted more than £250,000, to identify and reduce carbon in the construction supply chain.

The Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Tool (CITT) was among two projects selected to receive funding from the Construction Climate Challenge, an initiative hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment which aims to promote sustainability throughout the industry.

The collaboration with engineering solutions provider, Costain Group, will address the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across what can often be highly complex, fragmented, construction industry supply-chains.

The three-year project aims to develop and implement a tool to help firms identify and reduce carbon by pinpointing innovative opportunities to improve supply-chain engagement and communication at each stage of the construction process.

Drawing on the School’s leading faculty expertise in carbon accounting methodologies and Costain’s industry insight, the research will investigate current supply chain challenges through live tests with real infrastructure projects.

Dr Matthew Brander, Lecturer in Carbon Accounting at University of Edinburgh Business School and Project Manager for CITT, said:

In large infrastructure projects there are often huge amounts of emissions at stake. The supply chain is also very fragmented, with many different stakeholders. It’s important to ensure we have a consensus across the whole chain to reduce emissions.

“You can develop the best tool in the world but if the stakeholders don’t want to use it, it’s not going to have much impact, so what we create has to be accessible and easy to understand.”

Damien Canning, Head of Technical Sustainability at Costain Group, said:

The tool will be integrated into current pricing processes and will allow us to have carbon and cost together. It will put the data in the hands of the right people at the right time in contractors’ processes, allowing them to make decisions to significantly reduce carbon.

“The way to really drive this is to develop something with as much input from the industry as possible. This will help to raise standards significantly, and ensure consistency across the industry.”

Ian Sharp, Head of Marketing & Engagement at Edinburgh Research & Innovation, the University’s commercialisation and industry engagement arm, added:

This latest project collaboration reinforces the business relationship between the University and Costain, which was first established in 2014 at a University AIMday organised by Edinburgh Research & Innovation. We look forward to building on this success with further projects in partnership with Costain, who have shown themselves to be a leading innovator in the UK construction industry.”

Once the research project is finished, the team will make the CITT freely available to encourage wider adoption across the industry.

Image source: iStockphoto/3mentat