A new online tool that will help construction companies plan so-called "carbon-wise" projects and reduce their carbon footprint has been launched by the Environment Agency.
The spreadsheet-based tool, which from November 2007 will be mandatory to use during the planning stage on all major Environment Agency construction projects, is now being made available to other construction companies, government bodies and consultants.
'At the Environment Agency we are always looking to ways of reducing the environmental impact from our own construction projects. We spend around £200m a year on construction projects, which accounts for about three per cent of the construction civil engineering sector,' said Andrew Powell, Technical Advisor at the Environment Agency.
'With this in mind over the past year, together with Jacobs Consultants, we developed a new tool for calculating the carbon footprint from construction projects. We have been trialling the tool as part of environmental audits on the building of new flood defences schemes,' he added.
The tool provides a way to find where significant carbon savings can be made during the planning and design process and can be also used to audit the carbon footprint of a completed project.
During the trial of the tool, the Environment Agency’s auditing of one of the flood defence schemes found that one tonne of ordinary Portland cement emits 970kg of CO2 when made in a wet kiln, whilst ash cement gives off 585kg and slag cement emits 280kg. With 1.5 million tonnes of cement used in flood defence work in 2005/6, this highlights how the choice of materials can help achieve a significant reduction in carbon output.
'As an environmental regulator, our role is to lead by example and demonstrate what sustainable construction means in practice. Promoting resource efficiency and reducing carbon emissions from our construction projects is an important part of that,' said Powell.
The tool can be downloaded here.