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The Friday Blog | Live Labs 2 - Devon introduces the A382 Carbon Negative Project

In this weeks blog, the focus is on Devon County Council’s project, which falls within the theme of ‘Corridor and place-based decarbonisation’. Beth Lewis, Devon County Council's Principal Engineer - Major Projects, talks about the A382 (Including Jetty Marsh Link Road) - Carbon Negative Project.

Devon County Council’s Live Labs project is off to a busy start.

One of the first tasks of the project team has been to determine the next steps for carbon calculation, building on the collaborative project with our contractors.

We’re starting from a position where both Devon County Council and Milestone - our highways maintenance contractor and delivery partner for this project - have a calculation tool and guidelines.

Working closely with the University of Exeter, we’ve reviewed these tools, and worked out what we need from both to make sure they’re a perfect fit for our A382 carbon negative road project. Improvements are now underway, bringing together their respective strengths and making updates to ensure we have a tool that can deal with all the changes and innovations the project encounters.

Spring 2024 – target on site date

Our aim is to be on site in spring 2024. Working to such a tight timescale means that as well as working on the calculation, we’ve also been seeking out innovations to be used on the project. A huge amount of work has been done by the project team, talking to and meeting with suppliers and innovators.

There are some great products and ideas both within the construction industry and beyond and we’re starting to see how connections and sharing of ideas between some companies could result in better innovations. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been investigating further the possibilities of biochar and carbon negative aggregates.

While we know where the carbon hotspots lie on the project, and those are the obvious areas to target, we’ve found that progress is determined more by the response of suppliers than what is more pressing for us. Our sense of urgency is not shared by the industry and so, while progress has been good, it hasn’t necessarily been in the areas we hoped.

Events and networking

The team were at the LCRIG (Local Council Roads Innovation Group) Innovation Festival on 4th July, which was a great opportunity to talk to many suppliers in one go and broaden our search for innovation. The reaction we received from a number of people was really encouraging.

There is a lot of support for the project, and it’s seen as being ambitious but necessary for the industry. We just hope this translates into results. It was great to talk to people in the industry who are similarly enthusiastic about reducing carbon as well as being able to catch up with the other Live Lab 2 projects.

On 11th July, Devon County Council and Milestone hosted our own innovation day. It was an opportunity to hear about innovations and meet suppliers, and we started the day with a challenge for all those present to reduce their own carbon footprint.

Innovation and products to reduce carbon

While the project team scour the construction industry and beyond for innovations and products to reduce carbon, the design team have been making changes to the design that are resulting in carbon reductions and cost savings for the scheme. This includes reducing the paved area, using sustainable drainage where possible and designing alternations to the vertical alignment that reduce the earthworks. Some of these will also help reduce the duration of the work, thereby further saving carbon and helping to minimise disruption.

There’s no doubt that Live Labs 2 is the start of a long journey towards greener roads. It’s certainly helping us to continue in the right direction, and no matter whether the A382 Live Labs project achieves its goal or not, it will provide us with lots of learning and be a huge step toward reaching our final destination of making carbon negative roads a reality.

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