Sustainable construction for Scotland

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The construction sector is a substantial carbon emitter in the UK that produced more than 12 million metric tons of CO2 in 2016[1].

Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), Edinburgh University (UoE) and Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal completed an EIT Climate-KIC Pathfinder project to bring a sustainability and carbon-impact focus to UoE procurement and construction activity with a series of workshops and site visits.

“We aimed to skill up leaders and unlock ambitious new approaches in supply chains to embed the innovation which will help the University of Edinburgh and its City Deal partners deliver their carbon ambitions,” says Charlotte Waugh, acting head of innovation at ECCI.

A key outcome of the project is the willingness of participating contractors to share knowledge and innovation; promote sustainability and low-carbon solutions in their industry. They all wrote to their supply chains, encouraging them to develop sustainable business models which could support efforts to reduce emissions. The formation of a ‘Built Environment Cluster’ will help drive innovation and further accelerate collaboration between contractors and clients.

ECCI and UoE plan to build on the project in 2019 with an EIT Climate-KIC Demonstrator programme to further scale supply chain innovation. It will include a large element of innovation support for intrapreneurs and industry, using procurement as an enabler.

Problem

The construction sector is a substantial carbon emitter in the UK that produced more than 12 million metric tons of CO2 in 2016.

Solution

“We aimed to skill up leaders and unlock ambitious new approaches in supply chains to embed the innovation which will help the University of Edinburgh and its City Deal partners deliver their carbon ambitions,” says Charlotte Waugh, acting head of innovation at ECCI.

Two programmes, Innovators and Leaders, evolved over three months of workshops and site visits to help stakeholders involved at all levels of the procurement process:

  • Integrate innovation in construction procurement while respecting (public procurement) principles, regulations and equal treatment of bidders
  • Support local and regional climate change targets
  • Address the difficulties of retrofitting old and listed buildings through collaboration
  • Identify key challenges and solutions to deliver sustainability requirements for large builds.

Leaders, or senior managers, from UoE contractors were invited to take part in a leadership programme in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland. Each of the participating contractors also put forward subcontractors or staff members with an idea for integrating data-driven or sustainability solutions in the built environment. The ideas were assessed before a handful of them progressed to the Innovators Programme for development. This included coaching, site visits, dedicated workshops and a grant of 2,000 euros per idea.

Impact

  • The willingness of participating contractors to promote sustainability/ low carbon solutions in their industry – all wrote to their supply chains encouraging them to develop sustainable business models
  • A TU Delft site visit that stimulated ideas for retrofitting buildings and consolidated the importance of collaboration
  • Identification of key challenges for sustainable innovation within the construction industry and innovative solutions developed to address them
  • A ‘Built Environment Cluster’ was formed to drive innovation within the industry and for City Deal Partners to access. It accelerates collaboration between contractors and clients.

 

Katherine Maxwell, innovation project manager, ECCI, says: “ECCI successfully delivered the City Deal Procurement project by working at the interface between academic, industry and public sector stakeholders. ECCI collaborated with its academic partner, the University of Edinburgh (Procurement, SRS and Building and Estates Department), to identify relevant construction suppliers and assess their low carbon and date driven innovations (DDI). Selected suppliers were large industry players within the construction sector, who participated in the business support programme run by ECCI.

“ECCI also partnered with Edinburgh City Council to align innovations with the Edinburgh and South East Region City Deal. The project working group comprised of various City Deal partners and local stakeholders: University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh City Deal, Zero Waste Scotland, Sustainable Procurement Ltd., who all contributed procurement and innovation expertise, insight, in-kind support and funding for the project.

“The City Deal business support programme run by ECCI included a site visit to TU Delft, another Climate-KIC partner, to explore examples of sustainable procurement and the development of new low carbon solutions that could be replicated at city level.”

 

[1] Source: statista.com

 
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