Joined Up Thinking & The Road To Net Zero

by Tony Roe, on 14-Oct-2021 04:54:34

The proven solutions for achieving construction CO2 targets for 2025/30 are already known to us. There is no time for something new; and at Tensar, we’re ready…

Highways' Net Zero Plan

Responding to the UK Government's vision set out in Construction 2025 and public demand for action, National Highways has set out an ambitious Net Zero plan for highways. Nick Harris, Chief Executive  Officer of National Highways said: “Highways England (now National Highways), recognises the threat of climate change and the risks it poses for us  all. That’s why we’re pledging to take effective action to take carbon out of roads.”

What are the goals?

The plan sets a target of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. But there are key milestones to be met along the way. 0-10% reduction by 2025 and 40-50% by 2030 compared to 2020. If those targets are to be met by National Highways - and also by other highways clients - every highways engineer will need to re-prioritise their decision making processes in design, specification, procurement and construction.
EVERY ONE of us must seek CO2 savings from EVERY DECISION on EVERY PROJECT no matter the size, urgency or complexity of the works.

Joined Up Thinking

In elite sports, it is the net result of multiple small improvements that make the difference and win the medals. The aerodynamics of a cycling shoe, the exact position of the swimmers hands in the dive, the dip of the sprinters head. It’s about every detail and every stakeholder coming together. Net Zero in construction will be achieved in the same way. Tensar’s Joined up Thinking strategy aligns perfectly with this. Only by combining multiple small improvements and collaboration between parties, to achieve a common, shared, sustainability objective on every aspect of construction, will the target be met.

What are the solutions?

The solutions to meeting the 2025 and 2030 construction targets are already with us. They have to be; there is no time to develop and implement something new in that time frame. We just have to make the essential changes to our thinking and apply the solutions that innovative manufacturers like Tensar have already developed.

Innovative Tensar solutions can help support the ambitious Net Zero plan for highways. To find out more on what role geogrids play in sustainablity, click here

Innovation at Tensar

National Highways say: "We need to work with innovative thinkers to create the solutions, and meet the future needs of our road users, communities and stakeholders." As well as our proven technology, Tensar’s ongoing values align perfectly with this; we have already invested in the future, and implemented several initiatives to improve and reduce the carbon footprints of construction projects.

CO2 savings in road pavements

Specifically, National Highways have said they will focus on asphalt, cement and steel to find the big CO2 savings. Taking the first of these – asphalt - Tensar have already developed a modified approach to pavement design that takes advantage of the influence of a stabilisation geogrid on the long-term pavement strength and performance. With this approach, the thickness of pavement layers - including the asphalt layers - can be reduced, without reducing design life of the pavement. The potential benefits are huge: by reducing pavement thickness, the volume of soil excavated and removed, the volume of quarried aggregate, and the volume of asphalt are all reduced. Reduction in materials volumes also translates to reduction in transportation to and from site, placement and compaction. A decision by the design engineer to consider something different, something proven but new to them, such as the Tensar stabilised pavement design, can deliver major net reductions in CO2 now.

FARRRS 1 (2)
Tensar Pavement Optimisation helped save significant time, cost and carbon reduction at the Finningley & Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme (FARRRS). 

See how we did it at FARRRS

An example of the application of fresh thinking that led to real carbon savings, was the The Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme (now the Great Yorkshire Way). This involved construction of a new road South of Doncaster, with links to Rossington and a major new distribution hub, iPort. Tensar’s Spectra Pavement Optimisation System delivered a design for both the dual and single carriageway sections that avoided having to treat (or excavate and replace) the weak subgrade. TriAx geogrid was installed under the road’s granular sub-base to create a mechanically stabilised layer, reducing both granular and asphalt thickness, equating to a 26% saving in total pavement depth and improving the road service life by between 43% and 110%. This alternative approach saved 7,000 tonnes in pavement materials compared with the original design, reducing construction vehicle movements and CO2 emissions - and cutting construction costs by £500,000 proving that saving carbon need not come at a financial cost to the client, and can actually save money as well. 

To learn more about this project, click here to download the case study.