With the climate emergency moving up political and business agendas, research carried out by the University of Edinburgh Business School could help deliver a step change in the carbon management of infrastructure projects.

In collaboration with infrastructure solutions company Costain and with funding from the Construction Climate Challenge, hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment, this research project—the Carbon Infrastructure Transformation Tool (CITT)—has published findings which will be important for design teams, estimators, and contractors in specifying, measuring, and reporting carbon reductions.

The results of the research will also help developers of carbon calculation tools identify areas for future development, and understand the wider sectoral context for maximising the effectiveness of tools.

The research provides a more detailed assessment of the carbon impact of a project at the resource level compared to many tools in the market, simplifying the carbon assessment and intervention processes for all parties involved. It measures the embodied carbon emissions of infrastructure projects by integrating emissions data with outputs from estimators, planners, and technicians.

While there are several carbon management tools available to industry, few integrate with contractors' costing and planning processes. The intention is that no additional time is taken to identify the 'hot-spots' of a project, delivering a step change in carbon management on infrastructure projects. Linking carbon to cost allows for a quick assessment of commercial benefits linked to low carbon interventions, leading to quick and easy engagement with suppliers and decision making on the adoption of low-carbon options.

Dr Matthew Brander, Senior Lecturer in Carbon Accounting at the University of Edinburgh Business School, said:

Increasing sustainability is a vital consideration for the future of the construction sector. The CITT project points the way to an industry wide movement that has the capacity to develop a more impactful, efficient, and cost-effective way of reducing carbon output within infrastructure projects, as well as establishing a standardised carbon library for the industry.

Tim Embley, Group Research and Innovation Director at Costain Group, said:

The comprehensive research conducted to develop the tool so far, and the subsequent recommendations, demonstrates Costain's commitment to accelerating the UK's journey towards net zero carbon. Next steps in bringing industry closer together will be key to realising the benefits that will enable smarter, low-carbon delivery of major projects.

A copy of the executive summary report for the CITT project can be found on the Construction Climate Challenge website.

More on the CITT Project