Building new futures
Poul Wend Hansen, Environment Manager at Balfour Beatty, discusses how innovation and early contractor involvement is critical in ensuring the sustainable, long-term outcomes of a construction project.
Whether we’re building critical national infrastructure, or projects at the heart of local communities, we know that our impact touches more than just the bricks and mortar. Through our work, we can make a real difference by providing work experience placements for students, or by introducing new construction methods to benefit the environment.
At Balfour Beatty, we always look beyond the construction site. It’s not a question of why. It’s a question of how. How do we consistently leave a lasting, positive legacy, wherever - and whenever - we operate?
That’s why last year, we launched our refreshed sustainability strategy “Building New Futures”, setting out the bold and ambitious targets that will help us go beyond net-zero carbon, generate zero waste and positively impact more than one million people by 2040.
These three core areas are of vital importance to our business as we work towards eliminating our negative impacts and leaving a positive legacy. Focusing on them will enable us to make the biggest step-change to our built environment and our communities. We need to transform the way in which we select building materials and design their use to ensure they hold their value. We need to use the digital tools that we have to ensure we repurpose when needed and increase efficient material use that drives the built environment beyond net-zero and ensures investment in our natural environment.
But, if we are to successfully deliver on our strategy, everyone has a role to play.
As a company, we need to help our people make smart decisions, which is why we’re constantly developing new sustainable solutions that harness complex information and empower our people to make choices made on financial, environmental and social data.
For example, in collaboration with several leading industry partners, we’ve created a carbon calculation tool for the construction and infrastructure industry - offering a consistent, practical solution for the measurement of embodied carbon.
Currently in its beta testing phase, the AutoBIM Carbon Calculator automatically links BIM data to embodied carbon data from the Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE) database, an online source which provides energy and embodied carbon information for construction materials.
The innovative platform is being used by our teams during the design phase of a project to compare products and materials, to drive decisions for lower impact alternative solutions and ultimately help those involved make informed, low carbon decisions.
It’s not just a simple case of introducing these tools and innovations mid-way through a project however. We need to work alongside our customers and with our supply chain partners from the early stages of a project – early contractor involvement is critical.
By engaging with our customers and supply chain partners from the outset, we can fully utilise the digital tools required to ensure the energy efficiency of built assets, enable embodied carbon to be tackled and secure biodiversity net gain outcomes. Ultimately, we can shape the best and most efficient outcome for the planned investment.
Through the SCAPE Civil Engineering framework, we are doing just that. Bypassing traditional procurement methods that create barriers allows us to engage with our customers earlier. The sooner we can start the conversation, the sooner our customers can leverage our expert knowledge; not just on cost, programme and buildability, but on how to ensure the highest community impact and best environmental outcome.
To hear more about what we’re doing at Balfour Beatty to build back better and greener, book your place at the Climate Engineering Conference on 15 June 2021.
Poul Wend Hansen
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