Home » Major construction firms to help develop automated, real-time reporting of embodied carbon

Major construction firms to help develop automated, real-time reporting of embodied carbon

by Liam Turner
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A group of large contractors and suppliers have teamed up with construction technology provider Causeway Technologies in an effort to develop automated, real-time scope 3 emissions reporting.

Aggregate Industries UK, Balfour Beatty plc, Galliford Try, and Morgan Sindall Group plc have joined the Causeway Technologies project to try and overcome what is increasingly seen as the biggest challenge to reducing the construction industry’s carbon footprint.

Scope 3 emissions are indirect carbon and greenhouse gas emissions that come from an organisation’s supply chain – in construction, this could include the embodied carbon from the production and transport of concrete, steel, and timber.

Speaking recently at Digital Construction Week, Dr Adam O’Rourke, Causeway’s emerging technologies consultant, explained: “The construction industry has been grappling with the measurement of scope 3 emissions for some time with increasing pressure from regulators, investors, and campaigners adding to the sense of urgency for a viable solution. 

“But at present, few construction product suppliers find it easy to provide consistent transaction-level data on the full carbon emissions of their products, and so contractors are heavily reliant on using generic carbon calculators for estimating scope 3 emissions.”

He continued: “These calculators are useful estimating tools, but Causeway’s Scope 3 initiative is different – it provides contractors, for the first time, with an accurate, consistent, and automated reporting tool that reflects the actual materials and products used, not just what was planned.

“More accurate reporting means better choices and lower risk for contractors.

“It also means competitive advantages for suppliers who are supporting their customers to meet their carbon-reporting obligations with an automated solution – no further effort is required.”

Causeway Tradex already processes 6.7m invoices from over 60,000 suppliers, amounting to billions of construction value.

Using Causeway Tradex in this way, scope 3 emissions can be associated with specific projects and specific transactions, and emissions measured in real-time as a building or structure is constructed. 

In initial tests, Causeway was able to sample 25,000 invoices from Aggregate Industries, Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, and Galliford Try focusing on materials with the highest carbon impact.

Causeway says the system is capable of addressing embodied carbon figures down to line-level items such as tools and plant purchases, with the range of materials and products growing as the project matures.

Causeway and its partners are currently engaging with more suppliers and contractors, as well as validating and testing elements of the software.

The project is being supported via a partnership engagement with the Engineering Department at the University of Bath.

Dr. Adam O’Rourke added: “One of the biggest innovations on this project has been bringing together major contractors’ finance departments and sustainability teams.

“The detail and accuracy of existing financial reporting provides the level of information needed for transparent benchmarking, tracking, and reporting on carbon emissions for ESG reporting, but we found that this connection had not been made in many businesses.

“The Scope 3 initiative bridges this gap.”

Image credit: ConceptCafe/Shutterstock

Read next: Japanese construction firm turns to biochar to develop decarbonised pavements

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