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Futurebuild 2019: invest more in project design to reduce carbon

08 March 2019

ICE Past President David Balmforth told the industry conference in London that carbon reduction is a 'need-to-have' not a 'nice-to-have' part of infrastructure planning.

Futurebuild 2019: invest more in project design to reduce carbon

More money needs to be spent at the project design stage of an infrastructure project in order to achieve carbon reduction, Futurebuild attendees have been told.

At a main conference session which focused mostly on energy efficiency in housing, ICE Past President David Balmforth made the case for civil engineering’s role in helping to achieve a built environment fit for the future.

“Carbon reduction must be a need-to-have, rather than a nice-to-have,” Balmforth said. “If we actually make carbon reduction a key driver in projects, we can make some progress.

While conceding that design costs would increase, Balmforth argued that reducing carbon would reduce costs overall. “If we really want to improve value, spend more money at the design stage,” he said.

“We have to incentivise carbon reduction in the same way we incentivise other behaviours. It has to be profitable to everybody.”

Carbon needs to be measured

Pointing to the fact that projects would never be designed without assessing cost, Balmforth suggested that carbon needs to be measured in the same way. “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” he said.

Balmforth also outlined the interdependent nature of infrastructure and the need for collaboration to meet the climate change challenge.

“Our different infrastructures don’t exist in isolation,” he said. “A lot of the carbon reduction can be delivered through interdependency management.”

He suggested that “good, targeted regulation” would be welcome, while saying that asset and building owners also have a responsibility to drive change.

  • Vienn McMasters, communications business partner for ICE