Route Map to Net Zero Construction: EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2023 Retrospective


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The construction sector is responsible for 39% of the global carbon emissions. The UK sector alone produced around 11.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, and this was directly linked to building materials and from burning fossil fuels to power machinery. The UK government has set stringent targets to be carbon net-zero by 2050, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100% compared to 1990 levels, but how is this achieved by an industry that is currently diesel dependant?

Daniel Marsh, programme manager for the Centre for Low Emission Construction, discussed this critical issue at EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2023, outlining some of the cutting-edge research being carried out by Imperial College London with partners, including High Speed Two, and explained how this will help the industry address the huge challenge ahead to remove diesel from construction sites to reduce its impact on local air quality, health, and the environment.

Summary of highlights from Daniel’s keynote presentation:

  • Raising awareness of air quality impacts from construction and demolition;
  • Providing high quality scientific research to inform policy development;
  • Working with manufacturers to develop low emission technologies;
  • Quantifying the health impact of exposure to emissions for the public and people working in the construction sector;
  • Developing guidance for industry, planners and air quality professionals;
  • The diesel challenge and the UK government’s net zero strategy and commitment;
  • “It’s not all about carbon!” – NO2 and PM impacts from construction sites of urban health (2022 Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report on Air pollution);
  • How polluting is the construction industry? PM10, PM2.5 and NOx emissions by source type – comparing construction with pollution from road transport, aviation, rail, river, industrial/commercial heat/power, domestic biomass/wood burning etc;
  • Why is emissions inventory important?
  • ‘Bottom-up’ emissions inventory development, creating baseline evidence and support by Mayor of London;
  • Stepping stones to reduce emissions – From diesel use to diesel free: sustainably sourced biofuels, energy efficient solutions, clean energy production, early grid connections, full electric NRMM, hydrogen NRMM;
  • Additional measures – Clear and concise government policies, financial support, upgrade of grid and green energy supply, industry led adoption, removal of ‘green washing’;

  • Alternative fuel trials and sustainable sourcing of alternative fuels – analysis of HS2 BBV alternative fuel trial showed limited air quality benefits;
  • Exhaust retrofit technology trials – Eminox, Bauer Piling Rig, energy saving trust certification;
  • Energy storage-recovery systems and energy management systems – PUNCH Flybrid, EcoNet, Balfour Beatty etc;
  • CAGE (clean air gas engine) generator trials using LPG as a replacement for diesel;
  • Hydrogen dual-fuel vehicles – ULEMCo;
  • Hydrogen fuel-cell power generators – GeoPura;
  • The importance of independent evidence – This research and the results from these trials will support accelerated decarbonisation programs to meet stringent targets by 2050, whilst still delivering local air quality benefits;
  • Diesel free construction sites at HS2 and the Construction Leadership Council’s CO2nstruct Zero campaign target to cut diesel used in construction by 78% by 2035;
  • Policy influence – GLA low emission zone for construction machinery, BEIS funded RDR competition, removal of diesel tax incentives, urban health lobbying;
  • The future – Electric;
  • The future – Hydrogen;
  • Technology and more efficiency – Behavioural change (anti-idling), understanding engine telematics, using AI and machine learning etc.

If you satisfy our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us in London on April 26th for the live in-person event at Greencoat Place Conference Centre, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Daniel’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, environmental managers, programme managers and planners from local authorities (e.g. city, borough, metropolitan, district and county councils); public and private transport operators/service providers; sub-regional transport bodies, combined authorities, integrated transport authorities and passenger transport executives; freight and logistics operators; airports and port operators; vehicle manufacturers; energy providers; potential partners from industry (e.g. retail, construction, manufacturing and waste management sectors) and healthcare; DfT, Defra, EA, BEIS, DHSC and supporting national agencies; prime contractors etc.

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EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how they can deploy the latest digital technology-enabled solutions, data-driven strategies and best practices to improve urban air quality and drive down emissions and air pollution in our cities and regions. EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2023 will be hosted in London on April 26th.


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