Integrating embodied carbon into transport infrastructure scenarios

Authors: Jannik Giesekam, Jonathan Norman, Robin Lovelace (2022)

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The project sought to develop resources that could support greater incorporation of capital (embodied) carbon emissions into transportation models and scenarios. Datasets compiled under the project were incorporated into development of a new database and spatial tool under the Department for Transport’s Shared Digital Carbon Architecture (SDCA) programme, in turn informing strategic decision making within Government departments and Arm’s-Length Bodies.

Key Findings

This seedcorn project sought to develop the prototype of an open extendable tool for the transport modelling community, including a database detailing the capital carbon embodied in different construction materials, products, components, projects and asset types. The primary objective was to develop a prototype which could subsequently be developed (with further funding) into an impactful resource that could support a range of stakeholders, including national and sub-national transport bodies, in integrating capital carbon into their scenario analyses and strategic planning.

Data was compiled from 92 sets of sources including a wide range of academic studies, project environmental statements, industry studies (including roadmaps, reporting & sustainability strategies), carbon factor databases (e.g. Inventory of Carbon and Energy) and bespoke carbon assessment tools (e.g. Highways England Carbon Tool). To the authors’ knowledge, the resulting dataset represented the most comprehensive inventory of capital carbon data on UK transportation projects compiled to that point in time.

Much of the project data was incorporated into the development of a new spatial tool for whole life carbon estimation within the Department for Transport’s Shared Digital Carbon Architecture (SDCA) programme. The SDCA is a 2 year cross-government project funded by HM Treasury’s Shared Outcomes Fund intended to support a more joined-up approach to infrastructure decarbonisation across Government. The SDCA will pilot a shared carbon system amongst Partners through development of a primary reporting platform and a range of secondary tools.

Interview with Jannik Giesekam