Antarctic infrastructure for net zero

7 July, 2022

This week is Net Zero Week, an opportunity for all of us to reflect on what we can do to help mitigate the worst effects of climate change. The work being done at BAS to help pave the road to net zero though continues year-round and there are many exciting initiatives planned and underway to support our net zero targets.

Last year, I wrote a blog for Net Zero Week to try to demystify the basics, the terminology and the direction that the concept of net zero was taking at an industry level. Over the last year within Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP), we have been embedding carbon management processes with greater consistency and rigour within our working practices.

The impact of making carbon a regular topic for discussion within AIMP activity has made talking about carbon a matter of course in our project team meetings. The whole team is accustomed to hearing about the sustainability impacts of projects, the programme and even our own work behaviours.

The AIMP have several key performance indicators, one of which is around our business travel impacts. In December, a travel log was set up for the AIMP team to input their travel information for all journeys associated with AIMP work, including any commuting journeys to the office. As we start to become used to the hybrid working model in a nearly-post COVID world, our travel is unavoidably increasing. However, as we start to quantify and visualise the amount of carbon incurred for project meetings, we also become more conscious of the impacts. As hybrid working becomes our default practice, we can now easily quantify and interrogate our travel and include these environmental impacts in decisions regarding whether to hold in-person meetings versus online. The log also allows us to explore different travel modes that may give us better carbon results.

Understanding carbon impacts within our team has also been recently improved by attending training on the carbon management standard “PAS 2080 Carbon Management in Infrastructure”. Launched in 2016, this is a voluntary industry standard used for design and construction projects which focuses on making carbon management a standard practice for all built environment projects.  The approach incorporates carbon measurement, target setting, reduction, leadership, assurance and governance as well as requiring the whole value chain to change working practices. Following the standard alone doesn’t guarantee carbon reductions but if applied intelligently with good business management it can become a powerful carbon reduction enabler, whilst driving down costs and stimulating innovation.

All the AIMP projects require PAS 2080 reports at key work stages, starting from the early concept stage through to handover and commissioning. Some examples of what this looks like in practice are listed below.

  • The Rothera Renewable Energy project has been exploring the feasibility of various technologies as well as both demand and supply side energy management solutions.
  • The new Hangar project has recently undertaken a carbon quantification assessment in order to understand how well it aligns with the Rothera Decarbonisation Strategy.
  • The Discovery Building, having completed a carbon assessment at work stages 4a and 4b, will be undertaking further work to ensure that the design intent translates into lower carbon performance at the commissioning and handover stages.
  • The Runway Resurfacing and the Runway Upgrade projects will also be assessing the carbon impact of the materials required for construction.

The PAS 2080 training will help the AIMP team become more carbon-literate. We will be using the training to help us write better carbon briefs and reports, help inform lower carbon design options and improve the dialogue around carbon amongst the whole project team.