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Overview

The design phase will include:

  • Establishing a more accurate view of current baseline emissions for the sector
  • Science-based emission reduction targets and a guide for achieving them
  • Finalisation of a sector wide carbon calculator that can record and log emissions data
  • Carbon accounting and reporting plan for the sector
  • Establishing a wider ‘all consequences framework’
  • Alternative business models
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Work package 1 - Baseline emissions

Efforts have already been made to estimate the sector's emissions, but with improved data quality and quantity, we will achieve a more precise understanding of the sector's overall emissions. This work package aims to create a refined baseline of emissions, categorising them based on factors like emission range, types of work, and organisational classifications.

Recognising the pivotal role of energy demands from vehicles, machinery and equipment in the sector, accurate baseline emissions data is essential. This undertaking will offer the industry a comprehensive and consistent foundation, ensuring a unified approach to understanding emissions.

Design Phase Findings - Work Package 1 - Baseline emissions Report

Transforming road works: Unveiling Insights, standardising data, and charting a greener path for the future

This document (download link below) is a summary of a more detailed report published by EA Technology on 19 September 2023. 

Executive Summary
Our pursuit to improve the emission estimates in the street and road works sector has led to important revelations. Through comprehensive research, which combined in-depth stakeholder discussions and rigorous data analysis, we've gained insights into the intricacies of the sector and the nuances of its data landscape.

A key realisation from our research is the inherent challenge in obtaining emission estimates for the sector. Factors such as inconsistent data collection across regions and industries, the diverse nature of works, and the inherent complexity of tasks in the sector have all played a part. Our initial methodology, which leaned heavily on stakeholder feedback to discern "average" work emissions, also faced significant challenges with stakeholder engagement, along with hesitancy and difficulty in sharing data. While providing an initial framework, it lacked the depth and precision necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the sector emissions.

Our engagement with existing platforms, notably Street Manager and the Scottish Road Works Register, revealed valuable insights. These include an updated figure of approximately 2.5 million works per year (2022/23), along with an in depth investigation on the types of works performed and how they differ across industries.

While these works register systems are instrumental, there's a clear need for enhanced granularity and broader data accessibility across the regions. The lack of data for Northern Ireland and Wales in particular, emphasises the pressing need for standardised and open data mechanisms.

From these findings, we've distilled key recommendations. These include the expansion of open data in systems like Street Manager, the addition of more detailed fields to better capture work nuances, and the establishment of centralised data collection in regions where it's lacking. Furthermore, the development of our standardised carbon calculator embodies our drive for a consistent, sector-wide approach to emission estimates.

By implementing these recommendations, we're not just improving data accuracy; we're paving the way for a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious street and road works sector in the UK.

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Work package 2 - Emission reduction targets

Following the baseline emission calculations, a shortlist of key pain points can be identified, shaping the short to medium term solutions that are likely to have the highest impact on reducing the sector’s emissions.

Recommendations will be given regarding feasible emission reduction targets. Evaluation will also be made of alternative scenarios (Baseline, Falling Short and Leading the Way) and the key factors that will impact the route available to the sector (regulatory environment, supply chain constraints, engagement from key stakeholders, innovation trials, funding / subsidy requirements, etc.) and the positive (or negative) impact of Falling Short, hitting the Baseline or Leading the Way.

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Work package 3 – Design option framework

To enable more informed and calculated decisions, the project will provide people with the right information and tools in a holistic view of complex requirements. The design options will include established and innovative technological solutions, with a focus on remote condition assessment and minimum-dig and trenchless technologies. The outcomes of interventions will form the evidence base for determining whether they are worth implementing. Adjustments may require dynamic business models to deliver intended outcomes while maintaining financial viability.

Design Phase Findings - Work Package 3 - Design option framework

Our design options framework is a comprehensive plan to make a significant contribution towards cutting carbon emissions in street and road works throughout the United Kingdom. The primary focus is on street and road works, where the challenges of engineering in crowded urban areas are particularly complex. However, many of the advancements, such as alternative fuels for machinery, are transferable to other sectors.

Drawing on a thorough analysis of best practices and the latest innovations, our framework offers a practical toolkit for reducing the carbon footprint of construction machinery, materials creation, supply, waste generation, and transportation activities involved in street and road works projects. From small improvements in traditional excavation techniques to potentially transformative technologies, the framework provides a roadmap for achieving ambitious sustainability targets.

To obtain a copy of the original report titled "Design Options for Street Works Activities," as published by the University of Birmingham, School of Engineering on behalf of the Road to Net Zero project team on 31 October 2023, kindly reach out to us at [email protected]. We appreciate your interest and look forward to assisting you with any inquiries you may have regarding this report.

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Work package 4 – Carbon calculator

The discovery phase already established that there are a number of carbon calculators already used across the sector, but all different focus on specific elements.

It is our intention to combine the best of these and present them via the HAUC website so that the calculator can give consistent and comparable outputs based on common inputs.

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Work package 5 – Consequences Framework

The ‘all consequences framework’ will be formulated for all the potential unintended consequences. This will build on the work around the “Carbon Calculator” but is a wider view of activities, which could be selected based on the scenario and the resulting effect depending on which options/models are selected.

It is the sum of all the consequences that emerge collectively from the designs which determine the value gained or lost. This will provide the scales of balance to determine how the optimum equilibrium between the natural world and the modern world can be maintained and align daily activities required to keep our modern lives running in harmony with nature.

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Work package 6 – Carbon Accounting and Reporting

One of the key challenges for the sector will be to get all utilities and LHAs working together. It is our intent to develop a charter to get commitment from the sector and then provide a community based approach to participation, collaboration and reporting, setting a plan for progression incuding encouragement and enforcement criteria.

Working together we can present a comprehensive picture of how the sector is moving towards Net Zero.

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Work package 7 – Supporting an alternative business models

The alternative business models will be developed in conjunction with the design options and will identify/ and evaluate all of the value created by the different design options balanced against all the consequences (positive/negative) of implementing them (the economic costs of each design option features in this half of the equation. This will be achieved by conducting parallel analysis, using the consequences framework alongside the carbon calculator, to identify any hidden adverse or unintended consequences of adopting a specific design option.

The Alternative Business Models will present options over key areas including traffic management, resources, vehicles and machinery, innovations.

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Work package 8 – Promotion and Communications

Delivering the right messages to the sector is going to be paramount to getting buy-in and commitment to reducing emissions. The RTNZ project aims to develop revolutionary new ways of delivering road and street works to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing other adverse consequences.

To achieve this, it is imperative the entire sector is involved in the discussion to ensure the project findings and recommendations are deliverable and supported. Therefore, throughout this project there will be regular stakeholder engagement and dissemination to seek input and collaboration.