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New ICE Carbon Champions named: the ‘best’ of what the built environment can be

Date
06 October 2023

Engineers from across the UK have been recognised for their efforts to reduce carbon emissions in infrastructure.

New ICE Carbon Champions named: the ‘best’ of what the built environment can be
Statera Energy Ltd looked for an alternative solution to a carbon-heavy design. Image credit: Statera Energy Limited

Nineteen engineers have been awarded the accolade of ICE Carbon Champion for their work to decarbonise infrastructure.

The engineers, who worked on three major infrastructure projects, were given the title to celebrate their efforts to quantifiably reduce carbon emissions.

The ICE’s Carbon Champions initiative honours decarbonisation efforts from across the civil engineering community.

It provides recognition for project owners as well as best practice insights and expertise for the wider industry.

“Civil engineering is in the unique position of being at the forefront of efforts to transform and improve the world we live in,” said Lara Young, chair of the ICE Carbon Champions review panel.

“Decarbonising society, and in particular our infrastructure, is a critical step in creating a sustainable future.

“These Carbon Champions embody the best of what the build environment industry can be, recognising champions from every facet of the value chain; from planners, environmentalists, commercial teams and engineers.

“These champions are each finding new ways to reduce carbon emissions and build sustainable, resilient infrastructure that is fit for the future.

It’s exciting to be able to celebrate them and their efforts – and hopefully, inspire others to do the same.”

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Project teams from three projects around the UK have been recognised:

Geopolymer injections – Geobear

Geobear was tasked with finding a solution to lower the carbon footprint of maintaining concrete rail level crossings.

Traditionally, the maintenance of these level crossings is addressed by replacing the asset, but this solution is time-consuming, expensive and has a high carbon footprint.

Recognising the impact of the conventional replacement method, Geobear explored the use of geopolymer injections to a rail level crossing in north-east England.

At this site, the concrete level crossing had experienced geometric deterioration.

The Geobear geopolymer injections can extend the lifespan of an asset. Image credit: Geobear
The Geobear geopolymer injections can extend the lifespan of an asset. Image credit: Geobear

The geopolymer injections were used to revert the level crossing slabs back to the original designed geometry.

These injections translate to an extension of the asset’s lifespan by approximately 22 years.

Geobear worked with Carbon Footprint Ltd to compare the CO2e savings associated with the geopolymer injection works, when compared to undertaking a replacement of the rail level crossing.

Over a 60-year period, the geopolymer injection treatments would be required approximately three times to match the anticipated lifespan of a brand-new concrete level crossing.

Their carbon lifecycle assessment found that the geopolymer injection solution would generate 95.11% less CO2e over a 60-year lifespan when compared to the traditional replacement method.

Liam Bromley, senior project engineer, Geobear Global, said it’s “brilliant” that the ICE celebrates achievements in decarbonisation.

"I think it's brilliant that the ICE provides a platform for people to showcase their work, not just to highlight our achievements, but also to hopefully encourage others to think more about carbon saving opportunities in their work too," he said.

Cross Tay Link Road - Perth and Kinross Council and Sweco UK

The Cross Tay Link Road (CTLR) will link the A9 over the river Tay to the A93 and A94 north of Scone in Scotland.

This will alleviate the traffic congestion in the city centre and allow a shift to greener modes of travel in the city’s roads.

Perth and Kinross Council (asset owner) and Sweco (designer) worked in collaboration, with a focus on minimising the carbon output and environmental impacts of the project.

They embedded carbon requirements within their procurement for the build phase of the project.

The project will help reduce traffic congestion in the city. Image credit: Sweco UK
The project will help reduce traffic congestion in the city. Image credit: Sweco UK

In addition, Sweco supported the development of the tender documents, including carbon in the weighted evaluation criteria.

Tender proposals needed to demonstrate a minimum saving of 30% against the specimen design.

The proposed carbon savings stated in the winning tender were implemented as a contractual KPI in the awarded contract.

Contractual measures have been put in place to ensure emissions are reported, measured and minimised, along with a penalty if they fail to meet these targets.

David Jackson, principle carbon consultant, Sweco said it was an “honour” to be recognised.

“Being recognised as an ICE Carbon Champion is a huge honour for Sweco and Perth and Kinross Council’s project team for our work integrating carbon management on the Cross Tay Link Road.

Embedding PAS 2080 led to significant carbon reductions being achieved through design and procurement and has shaped how we deliver ongoing projects,” he said.

Read the PAS 2080 guidance document

Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) Portfolio - Statera Energy Limited

The Statera Energy BESS Portfolio consists of several 50MW battery energy storage assets throughout the UK.

These lithium-ion batteries are housed in modified 40ft containers and store excess renewable energy, exporting it back to the national grid when needed.

These batteries provide flexibility to the grid’s energy supply and are key for the energy transition.

However, the foundations required for these battery storage assets have a large carbon footprint.

The foundations are normally made from large interconnected reinforced concrete, due to the need to withstand larger amounts of settlement than a typical industrial development.

Statera Energy Ltd, along with design partners GGP, decided to investigate alternative solutions to the existing carbon-heavy design.

The team undertook an extensive geotechnical exercise and developed a foundation design that reduced the volume of concrete required, improving its carbon footprint. The design is also easier to build and replicate elsewhere.

Statera Energy has now saved an estimated 470 tonnes of carbon to date with the new design. Image credit: Statera Energy Ltd
Statera Energy has now saved an estimated 470 tonnes of carbon to date with the new design. Image credit: Statera Energy Ltd

By combining mass poured lean block foundations with precast plinths for upstand, this leaner design reduces concrete used by 1 wagon (8m3) per BES unit.

It also removed the need for temporary moulds, or shuttering, massively improving construction duration, reducing site traffic and as such, further improving on site emissions.

This practice was first trialled on a 50MW site at the Mintey South Battery Storage Project and then successfully rolled out across the portfolio of same technology for 2022 and 2023.

Charlie Gomer, project engineer, Statera Energy, highlighted the carbon savings made.

“Statera is proud to have brought together a cross-functional team to optimise the foundations for its Minety South Battery Storage Project, resulting in an overall reduction of 16% in the amount of concrete used,” Gomer said.

“Rolling out the design to our ongoing projects, Statera has now saved an estimated 470 tonnes of carbon to date.

“Statera’s mission is to help the UK reach net zero by 2050 by delivering low-carbon, flexible generation and energy storage technologies to help balance a renewables-led power system, so reducing the overall carbon impact of our construction is paramount.”

The new Carbon Champions

  • David Jackson (Sweco)
  • Kirsten Leggatt (prev. Sweco, now ARUP)
  • Lewis Barlow (prev. Sweco, now WSP)
  • Helene Piellard (Sweco)
  • Jillian Ferguson (Perth and Kinross Council)
  • Ross Fletcher (Perth and Kinross Council)
  • Liam Bromley (Geobear Infrastructure Ltd)
  • Karl Sivori O’Neill (Geobear Infrastructure Ltd)
  • Mohamed Wehbi (Geobear Infrastructure Ltd)
  • Andy Lee (Geobear Infrastructure Ltd)
  • Richard Holmes (Geobear Infrastructure Ltd)
  • Evangelos Pastras (prev. Statera Energy Limited, now DNV Services UK Limited)
  • Jason Randle (GGP)
  • Jon Lee (GGP)
  • Jeremy Collins (GGP)
  • Jason Tilley (prev. Byrnelooby, now GESL)
  • Charlie Gomer (Statera Energy Limited)
  • Sina Atabak (Statera Energy Limited)
  • Simon Johnson (Statera Energy Limited)
  • Billie Donovan, climate community executive at Institution of Civil Engineers