Design work behind ‘UK first’ carbon neutral road project helped deliver 43% savings in carbon and £3 million in costs

The design work behind the UK’s first carbon neutral road improvement project in Cumbria for Highways England, helped contribute to a 43% saving in carbon reduction compared to traditional solutions.

Two weeks ago Highways News reported the completion of the project that saw Highways England working together with A E Yates, Aggregate Industries HW Martin and Amey. Over 1,000 tonnes of Foamix asphalt was laid per night between junction6 of the M6 and Bettarg Holt, with operatives working 24 hours via two shifts to help minimise disruption.

Amey Consulting designed and provided carbon consultancy services on the A590 dual carriageway resurfacing and reconstruction between M6 junction 36 and Brettargh Holt roundabout The works resulted in significant carbon reduction across three main areas; materials reduction and reuse, energy reduction and transportation efficiencies.As well as the project reducing carbon by up to 43% almost £3m was saved as well.

Early collaboration between the contractors was key in developing the low-carbon solution as well as the bespoke carbon model used to calculate carbon emissions saved during the construction stage. The model allowed for comparison of carbon reduction measures against a baseline ‘traditional’ solution. Key initiatives which reduced emissions during the construction stage included the ex-situ foam-mix recycling of existing road surface plainings, by producing a site batched cold recycled asphalt.

This significantly reduced the need to import and export materials to and from the site and erased approximately 6,000 HGV movements from the operation, saving 230 tonnes of CO2e. This shortened construction programme also reduced road diversions and traffic management impacts on the local community. Furthermore, the recycled road surface has greater porosity compared with a hot-rolled asphalt or concrete, helping to reduce rolling noise from vehicles.

In addition to the carbon benefits associated with the pavement solution, significant carbon reductions were also realised as a result of energy efficiency measures. The use of solar powered generators, lighting, signage, CCTV and catering facilities, along with the use of electric vehicles saved approximately 70 tonnes of CO2e.

Steve Mason, Highways England’s Senior Project Manager, said: “The safety of road users was our key concern in the planning of this project. The installation of an ex situ recycling option and on-site asphalt plant gave us the opportunity to work 24/ 7 – removing the need for many thousands of deliveries but also allowing us to complete work near the motorway junction as quickly as possible and reduce any queuing associated with the roadworks.

“It was from this position that we tasked each contractor to help drive down the project’s carbon footprint. It was tremendous effort of collaboration between Highways England, Amey Consulting and our CWF partners, to add the efforts of AE Yates and Aggregate Industries are to be commended”.

Alex Gilbert, Managing Director, Amey Consulting said: “We are very proud to have worked in collaboration with Highways England and fellow contractors on a UK first for environmental engineering and carbon reduction. Key to success was using our carbon modelling expertise to understand how we can influence traditional solutions to reduce carbon output and cost for our client. This is an exciting step for highways industry as we believe this process has the potential to be built upon and replicated right across the UK”


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