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The Carbon Project: Towards Net-Zero Infrastructure

09 July 2020

Following the release of State of the Nation 2020, ICE has launched The Carbon Project, which will turn the report’s recommendations into tangible outputs. 

The Carbon Project: Towards Net-Zero Infrastructure

Following the release of ICE’s State of the Nation report, The Carbon Project: Towards Net-Zero Infrastructure has begun to turn recommendations into reality as it aims to harness the capability and capacity of the global civil engineering community.

Chapter 3 of the State of the Nation: infrastructure and the 2050 net-zero target report, launched last week, outlined how ICE planned to support the recommendations it made with a programme of thought leadership and knowledge sharing.

It examined the contribution of the UK’s infrastructure systems in achieving Net-Zero by 2050. It also set out recommendations for overcoming the seven policy obstacles identified by the Committee on Climate Change in its advice to government on what is required to meet the Net-Zero target.

This next phase represents the passing of the baton from policy to knowledge delivery and comprises a programme of activity that turns the report’s recommendations into tangible outputs for our members to implement and use so that they can start making a change within their practice and help deliver net zero carbon emissions.

The project aims to:

  • Bring about a transformation in our and our client’s business models through provision of robust thought leadership, nurturing collaboration and building knowledge and skills.
  • Make carbon accountancy business as usual for all operating in the infrastructure space.
  • Provide the evidence base for decision makers to legislate for a net zero infrastructure system.

With a focus on delivering a programme of outputs leading up to COP26, The Carbon Project is an industrywide response, bringing together leaders and experts from across the supply chain to tackle some of the challenges that are slowing progress towards net zero.

It represents the start of a long-term programme of collaborative work, which will seek to share knowledge and best practice on delivering low-carbon solutions across the industry. The work will be driven by a steering group of industry leaders, chaired by ICE President elect, Rachel Skinner and focuses on three workstreams where ICE can make an immediate impact and provide focus for our activities before, during and after COP26.

Measuring, sharing and benchmarking of carbon impacts

Chair: Kat Ibbotson - Programme carbon and cost manager – Environment Agency

An open approach to carbon reporting will hasten industry transformation and bolster collaborative efforts. The whole value chain – including asset owner/managers, designers, constructors, and product/material suppliers – should be able to contribute to and benefit from these developments.

Capability building in low carbon design and delivery

Chair: Steve Denton - Executive Director & Head of Civil, Bridge and Ground Engineering at WSP

Making progress on net-zero carbon design and delivery against the demands of clients, society and pressures on costs requires new skills, refreshed knowledge and professional support, especially when it comes to new regulations, challenging design standards and codes, specification of zero carbon solutions and designing for automated delivery.

Identifying systems-level reduction within in-use carbon

Chair: Tim Chapman – Director - Arup

Infrastructure is heavily networked and interconnected, composed of ‘systems within systems.’ Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with its use therefore requires a strategic approach. As most of the assets that will be in use by 2050 have already been built, we will have to make the assets we have already work more efficiently, to help achieve the net zero target.


  • Rob Curd, sustainability knowledge manager at ICE