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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

You see a busy site, we see data making construction safer, greener, more efficient and sustainable



According to UK Green Building Council, 10% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions are directly associated with construction. Industry is constantly innovating to find new ways to mitigate the environmental impacts and meet the Government’s 2050 net zero target.


By 2023 Costain has committed to offer low carbon solutions to every client on every project. The use of data and digital tools is and will continue to be at the heart of complex delivery programmes Costain delivers to enable safer, greener, more efficient, and sustainable projects.

As part of Highways England’s Regional Development Programme, Costain is delivering the A12 Chelmsford to A120 widening scheme, upgrading one of the busiest roads in the east of England. The project will reduce congestion, improve journey times, and smooth traffic flow by helping the road cope with incidents such as breakdowns and accidents.

Innovative, digital tools are supporting this complex delivery programme, including Costain’s Carbon Insights tool used to compare the carbon impact of steel versus concrete-beam bridge structures that cross the A12. By feeding data into the tool, the project team can see what is influencing any increases in carbon in the bridge design.

As steel is the preferred material for the bridges, Carbon Insights can be used to carry out detailed assessment of the associated foundations and earthworks required to help influence and change future designs that could reduce carbon impact. This is an ongoing study that will be reviewed throughout the A12 project.

Comprising a carbon estimating calculator and dashboard, the Carbon Insights tool calculates automated carbon baselining, produces insightful visualisations to pinpoint carbon hotspots and provides intelligence to help project teams make data driven changes to help reduce carbon and cost.

Closely aligned to Costain’s Climate Change Action Plan, by prioritising the collation and measurement of concrete, steel, and aggregate data, Carbon Insights helps project teams take prompt and effective action to reduce emissions where it makes the greatest impact.


The carbon data from numerous projects is continually added to develop and improve a carbon library that underpins the tool.

Supply chain partners can add material carbon data to the library through the Carbon Insights tool. Hanson UK, a leading supplier of heavy building materials to the construction industry, is the first strategic supply chain partner to have fully integrated its carbon data.

“As a major supplier reducing our carbon footprint is an important focus for Hanson, and for the whole industry, therefore it’s been a great opportunity to work with Costain to help build up the carbon data on their digital platform. It is exciting to see the proactive approach Costain have taken on this industry wide challenge. This collaboration will strengthen our existing partnership with Costain, and ensure sustainability is a key focus for both parties moving forward”, said Laura Jarvis, national commercial manager at Hanson UK.

With its simple and clear methodology, the tool adapts to the need of a project or a contract.

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