The Materials and Embodied Carbon Leaders’ Alliance (MECLA), Deloitte and ACEHub co-hosted this event in Brisbane with a focus on the opportunities for construction supply chain decarbonisation and circularity. The embodied carbon in the key materials used in construction, namely concrete, cement, steel and aluminium, are significant and responsible for over 14% of global GHG emissions. The decisions made today on infrastructure investment and material specifications will lock in carbon for many decades at a time when governments have agreed to ambitious 2030 and Net Zero by 2050 commitments and specifically for Queensland’s ambition for a Climate Positive Olympics.
This Spotlight event aims to demonstrate the readiness of industry to respond to the opportunities in anticipation of the 2032 Olympic Games and provide insight into government approaches regarding procurement.
- Kimberly Camrass, Director, Climate Positive Brisbane 2032 and Climate Futures , Department of Environment and Science
- Pamela Henderson, Executive Director Technical Services, Transport for NSW
- Valentina Petrone, WSP’s Circular Economy Lead
- Hollie Hynes, General Manager – Road, Laing O’Rourke
- Jeremy Mansfield, National Sustainability Manager, Lendlease
- Michael Kemp, CEO, Earth Friendly Concrete, Wagners
- Queensland is looking at roughly 220 billion dollars of procurement in the lead up to the 2032 Olympic games and is committed to delivering infrastructure that meets 6 Star Green Star
- Queensland Government is not looking to achieve a Climate Positive Olympics alone, but in collaboration with industry to create transformational legacy outcomes that guide future procurement and building practices
- Circular economy is a crucial tool for us to use in realising a net zero future, particularly in scope 3 emission challenges. A holistic design approach is necessary, meaning designing for the whole life-cyle of what is delivered from procurement through to end of service
- TfNSW has roughly 77 billion allocation over the next four years, a huge opportunity for sustainable outcomes. The new TfNSW sustainable procurement will be scalable across procurement methods and project value across other large infrastructure agencies.
- We must change our dimensions for evaluation – time, money, cost and carbon. This is most critical: redefining value for money to include carbon
- Persistence and collaboration along their supply chain are the foundations for Lendlease’s successes in driving down carbon. Supporting industry and sending the right signals to support low embodied carbon solutions is an important role for government.
- Performance based specification against prescription based is an important challenge fo using innovative low carbon materials, as well as risk management for engineers and understanding the value of new products
If you missed the session, read a summary of what was discussed below:
MECLA Project Director Monica Richter and Deliotte Partner Georgine welcomed everyone to the room and spoke about some of the work being done by WG1 on procurement prerequisite that demands an embodied carbon target to be met as a requisite to tender for government contracts.
Kimberly Camrass, Director of Climate Positive Brisbane 2032 spoke on behalf of Queensland Government. The 2032 Olympic and Paralympic games are committed to being climate positive, and are a great opportunity for Queensland to drive innovation and decarbonisation through the procurement strategies implemented. Queensland is looking at roughly 220 billion dollars of procurement in the lead up to the games. The ambition is to have these games influence government practices and lay legacy outcomes to lay the foundations for Queensland and Australia.
Queensland is committed to deliver infrastructure that meets 6 Star Green Star, which guides their roadmap to infrastructure development for the games. Many levers for action exist, from a Queensland perspective policies and procurement are primary.
Kimberly stressed that Government can’t and shouldn’t deliver everything for the games. They want a collaborative approach to realise a low carbon games in partnership with industry; to work with industry to drive down emissions, benefiticial outcomes, and create those transformational legacy outcomes.
Valentina Petrone, National Circular Economy Lead at WSP, then spoke about the importance of circular economy in designing for the games. Circular economy is a crucial tool for us to use in realising a net zero future, particularly in scope 3 emission challenges. There are three guiding principles and strategies for circular design:
Valentina advocates for a holistic design approach, meaning we design for the whole life-cyle of what is delivered from procurement through to end of service. WSP delivered circular economy structures through their involvement in the design and master planning phases for Arden Precinct Melbourne.
Pamela Henderson, Executive Director Transport for New South Wales, then came to us from the lands where the 2000 Olympics were held. TfNSW has roughly 77 billion allocation over the next four years, a huge opportunity for sustainable outcomes. TfNSW vision is to make every journey sustainable. This includes transitioning all gas and diesel buses to zero emissions technology.
TfNSW has eight sustainability focus areas.
Supply chains are so complex it can be hard to stay on top of carbon with contractors and subcontractors. They are working with their suppliers to encourage a shift to low carbon materials. They have a two-pillar approach to measure and drive carbon reduction.
The first pillar is, sustainable procurement uplift, aims to establish a consistent framework for sustainability across transport driven by decarbonisation and a transition to circular economy, and has already applied it to over $5 billion of project value.
The second pillar focuses on sustainable digital enablement, developing technology to measure and track carbon and monitor material re-use across transport. TfNSW is trialing a materials passport to trace and re-use materials across the portfolio reducing waste. Further trials underway using BIM carbon calculators.
TfNSW is collaborating with industry and governments to find the best ideas in this space, running a series of workshops covering myriad topics including the roadmap to net zero for infrastructure, designing for decarbonisation, environmental sustainablity, education capacity building and sustainability and more.
The new TfNSW sustainable procurement will be scalable across procurement methods and project value across other large infrastructure agencies.
Hollie Hynes, General Manager – Roads at Laing O’Rourke gave an honest contractors perspective on the Olympics, the opportunities and what industry can deliver. O’Rourke’s key focus is heavy infrastructure, and they have been on a long sustainability journey since 2014. They have committed to operational net zero by 2030 (scope 1 and 2 including all work done on construction sites) and to be a net zero company by 2050.
Hollie advocated for a mutual understanding with clients around the long-term value of low carbon options for the community and climate – in other words: a new value for money equation. Hollie called for state government policy that supports investment, performance-based specifications that meet evolving low carbon solutions, and collaborative contract models that allow for low-carbon approaches to be tabled.
We must change our dimensions for evaluation – time, money, cost and carbon. This is most critical: redefining value for money to include carbon. Every asset that needs to be built in the lead up to the Olympics is an opportunity to shift the market. And, as Hollie notes, no one has ever been told they lost a job on carbon, but on time or money it happens all the time. We must shift that paradigm, to change the demand and drive emissions reductions.
Hollie called for harmonisation and collaboration across industry to drive forward. When we are disaggregated progress is too slow, and to meet our targets we need a top-down driving force from industry working together to accelerate change.
Jeremy Mansfield, National Sustainability Manager at Lendlease, told the story of Lendlease and their journey toward net zero so far. Lendlease is targeting net zero carbon by 2025 for scope 1 and 2 and absolute zero carbon including scope 3 with no offsets by 2040. They have a mission zero roadmap you can view on their website.
Jeremy stepped through what they are doing in each of the scopes. For scope 1 Lendlease is looking at zero carbon fuels, working toward fossil fuel free construction with University of Queensland in Australia. That includes electrification of equipment.
For scope 2 they are focused on improving operational energy efficiency, and for scope 3 they are collaborating with suppliers to progressively source and procure low embodied materials. This includes a supply chain team establishing a cohort of mission zero aligned supplier partnerships.
Jeremy stressed the importance of persistence and collaboration as the foundations for Lendlease’s successes. Supporting industry and sending the right signals to support low embodied carbon solutions is an important role for government. He listed a series of actions that can be taken to accelerate the transition:
- Building capacity and buy in,
- setting embodied target minimums,
- implementing early engagement models
- Undertaking LCA early on, before design.
According to Jeremy, collaboration is the foundation. Collective action is needed in all of this to hit our targets and realise a low carbon future.
Michael Kemp, CEO of Earth Friendly Concrete Wagners, gave an overview of what Earth Friendly Concrete (EFC) is and the challenges faced on the way to give perspective on what it feels like to try to bring material to market in the current industry environment. EFC takes the cement out of concrete, they replace it with supplementary cementitious materials. They use GGBFS + fly ash, chemicals, and a proprietary admixture – everything else is the same. 1 tonne of Portland cement produces 1 tonne CO2. Cement is the biggest emitter – has the highest carbon intensity. The EFC solution is to remove it altogether.
On both structural performance and durability EFC performed better than Portland cement concrete.
Michael then turned to discussing what makes it hard to get engineers to use EFC. There is not standard practice to use low emissions concrete and so it is hard for design engineers who don’t want to take on risk. Germany has a DIBT approval grant, a process to go through to get approval. TS199 is due to be released soon – an addendum to ASE600 which will hopefully make this process easier. And of course, there is a risked based approach that needs to be evaluated. They have started small, because it is a way of managing risk and demonstrating functionality of the product.
Performance based specification against prescription based is also an important challenge. Prescriptive limitations, for example if a specification asks for a minimum amount of Portland cement, can be a boundary to innovation and may not achieve the designer’s intended outcome. Development of applicability of guides, handbooks and technical specifications can help ameliorate these challenges, and several working groups and committees are operating in this space including MECLA’s Working Group 5b.
Michael’s message is that the technology is ready – but we need to overcome these other challenges. Including EFC runs at a 25-30% premium for standard grades, better for higher grades. In the current market higher cost items are being sidelined. More desire and demand, but people are still looking to save. A shift of procurement strategies that drives contractors to look at innovative materials and treat it seriously would also help. Queensland is a huge opportunity in concrete to roll out specifications and requirements to decarbonise the materials used.
Speakers then answered questions from the audience, which you can view in the recording.