Sustainability in projects
Our consultants use innovation technology and methodology to identify effective and viable ideas – and opportunities – for sustainable and environmentally beneficial solutions in our clients’ projects
At Norconsult AB we use an in-house web application, Hållbathetskollen (Sustainability Check), both internally and with our clients at the start of new projects. The solution highlights how various aspects of sustainability can be incorporated into the client’s project.
Norconsult has also participated in the initiative “Roadmap: The Construction and Civil Engineering Sector”, one of thirteen contributory plans that have been submitted to the Swedish government, in which the industry, and other companies, organisations and local authorities, outline specific measures to make the sector climate-neutral.
Experience from our projects in the transport sector in recent years indicates that an emissions reduction of 20 per cent is relatively easy to achieve by using specific materials and making other project adaptations. However, we have found that the projects will not be capable of achieving society’s goal of a 40 percent emissions reduction unless all measures, both large and small, are considered. In identifying the required measures it is easy to choose “popular” measures, which are not necessarily the best in terms of cost/benefit. To find measures that can be implemented in individual projects, decisions must be based on knowledge-based, interdisciplinary processes.
At Norconsult we have good experience of achieving this through guided “brainstorming” and evaluation of measures based on knowledge of emissions, effects and costs. This allows us to put together packages of measures to achieve the desired goal (e.g. cutting greenhouse gas emission by 20,30 or 40 per cent) by starting with the measures that are easiest to implement and are most cost-effective.
Concrete, steel, material transport (fossil fuel), explosives and asphalt production are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by transport projects. Getting involved at an early stage of projects makes it easier for us as consultants to optimise the solutions in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and avoid using “tried and tested” standard solutions. For example, project emissionscan be reduced by using concrete with lower carbon emissions (low-carbon concrete), but what is often forgotten is that reducing quantities can be just as effective. Making a concrete wall 20 per cent thinner reduces emissions by the same amount. To successfully optimise quantities and material consumption in solutions, we must allocate sufficient time and resources to the projects to execute the optimisation process.
The Norconsult Plus methodology
Norconsult’s Plus method is based on our innovation methodology, and focuses in particular on identifying opportunities related to greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Through creative workshops with representatives from our client, partners and our own consultants from various disciplines, the project generates ideas that can improve the solutions. These ideas are sorted, ranked and evaluated with regard to viability and cost, as well as other key project goals such as the external environment, safety and mobility.
Norconsult’s Pluss method has been used on numerous projects, including the joint Ringerike Line project for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and BaneNOR, E39 Rogfast for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and projects for VEAS. This systematic approach identifies useful and profitable improvement proposals. This demonstrates how the project can implement measures that contribute to society’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent, compared to the 1990 level.
Expertise development increases sustainability of projects
As consulting engineers and architects, it is important that we make our contribution to sustainable development. We have the greatest impact through the advice we give and the solutions we propose to our clients in our projects. It is important that we highlight opportunities that can help to make our clients’ projects more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Our advice must be knowledge-based, and this is why we make sure we take account of people, the environment and climate in all our internal training.
In addition, all technical discipline networks and technical coordinators focus on how to incorporate these factors into individual disciplines and projects. Potential issues such as choice of materials and greenhouse gas emissions, and how we can balance biodiversity and climate impact in our planning work for urban development, are regularly and thoroughly discussed in our specialist groups. All disciplines must build up expertise and compile check-lists etc. on how they, including in interaction with other disciplines, can contribute to more environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions.
To identify the best and most effective measures for sustainable and environmentally beneficial advice and solutions, we work to ensure that all projects assess risk and opportunities related to the environmental topics of energy consumption, materials and resources, transport, handling surplus materials and waste, biodiversity, discharges to the ground and water and emissions to the air, interference (light and sound) and vibrations.