The ICE and the UK government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority highlighted the importance of the PAS 2080 low carbon standard.
The ICE and the UK’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) joined forces at the Transforming Infrastructure Performance Summit in Singapore to highlight that decarbonisation is the crucial challenge facing the profession.
ICE director of engineering knowledge, Mark Hansford, and IPA chief executive, Nick Smallwood explained that the PAS 2080 low carbon standard was the key enabling tool to address this challenge.
The summit, organised by software solutions provider Bentley Systems, took place in October and brought together over 100 business leaders from across the south-east Asia region.
Delivering the summit’s keynote, Smallwood stressed that decarbonisation was the critical challenge for infrastructure programmes around the world.
“The UK has a legal commitment to get to net zero by 2050. Many other countries around the world have made the same commitment. This challenge is at the heart of every infrastructure programme,” he said.
The UK’s progress on decarbonisation
Smallwood added that the decarbonisation challenge was firmly at the heart of the UK government’s Transforming Infrastructure Performance agenda and that progress was already being made.
He cited the Lower Thames Crossing, the proposed £9bn tunnel beneath the river Thames, east of the current Dartford Crossing, that has set itself a 50% carbon reduction challenge.
Hansford then joined the IPA’s director of function, profession and standards, Karina Singh, on stage to highlight the key role of the new PAS 2080 global standard for managing whole-life carbon reduction.
The audience heard how the UK’s Department for Transport’s arms-length bodies such as National Highways are mandating that its value chain becomes PAS 2080 accredited from 2025 as a major incentive for adopting the standard.
Hansford said: “PAS 2080 is a key reference document in the UK government's Construction Playbook and is now being mandated by government bodies. If you want to work for National Highways, then by 2025 your organisation must be PAS 2080 accredited.”
Hansford then explained how the UK’s approach could be mirrored globally: “PAS 2080 is a global standard. It is applicable to the whole built environment – buildings and infrastructure.
“And it looks across the whole value chain and looks at whole-life carbon reduction. It is such a valuable tool.”
The role of AI
The debate then widened to the potential impact of AI on the profession.
Pinsent Masons global head of infrastructure, Ian Laing, made a powerful argument for how such technologies will not replace human minds.
Rather, they "take away the mundane tasks to allow us to be more creative and innovative."
This, added Hansford, further amplified the importance of understanding PAS 2080.
“When you talk about the role of the human versus the machine, PAS 2080 has almost 20 references to challenging the status quo. This is unique within a formal specification like this,” he said.
“AI cannot do that challenging. This is a great and exciting opportunity for professionals to show their worth.”
Year in Infrastructure
The summit was followed by Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure event which saw live judging of project teams using technology to deliver better outcomes – including carbon reduction.
The rail and transit category, judged by Hansford, proved a case in point with the top prize going to an AECOM team working on the Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS).
This is a cross-border project that will connect Johor Bahru in Malaysia with Woodlands, Singapore.
Featuring stations in both countries, each equipped with customs, immigration, and quarantine facilities, the RTS will ease traffic congestion by reducing the number of cars using the Johor-Singapore Causeway.
This will provide greener transportation for around 10,000 passengers per hour.
AECOM faced several challenges on the rail project. To facilitate collaborative workflows and establish optimal project delivery, AECOM wanted to adopt a digital twin approach.
Using Bentley’s integrated digital modelling and analysis applications, AECOM established a connected data environment to optimise planning, design, and construction.
They developed a reality mesh from drone-captured images, accelerating survey and processing fivefold.
This computing power allowed the team to consider several alternatives, and they have devised a solution that will reduce the embodied carbon of the project by 40% while still meeting technical requirements for both countries.