The Carbon In Infrastructure

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending a business breakfast organised by Low Carbon South West to discuss the importance of carbon in infrastructure projects.  It was held in a location befitting a discussion on infrastructure, that being the Engine Shed of Brunel’s masterpiece Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station – standing as it does as a proud monument to the phenomenal achievements of our forebears.  Will the generations to come think the same of us?

The UK Government is trying to make some positive changes it seems, as the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Government’s most recent reviews on our infrastructure.  The National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) and Infrastructure Carbon Review, both released in 2013, highlighted how the Government is keen to consider the impact of carbon in large infrastructure projects and move towards a lower carbon approach.  Over the next 30 years, around 70% of our large infrastructure projects will be low carbon (these were mostly wind turbines), but we will still have to keep building bridges, water pipes and roads.  We discussed some of the ways organisations are trying to include carbon accounting in their procurement strategies for such works (which some enlightened organisations already do e.g. Anglian Water) and how they are reaping the benefits in their bottom line.  Reducing carbon can reduce your costs, thats for sure, but it requires careful thought and an assessment of the risks of trying new processes and technology – which tends to make business nervous, which is perhaps why many are reluctant to make the switch.

In reality the risk of trying new things now is certain to be less risky than operating in an unpredictable climate, so we applaud the forward thinking organisations who have already made this link and hope many more will follow.

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