Blog: SECBE Awards 2021 finalist - HS2 Enabling Works - Area South

31 May 2021

sponsored by Willmott Dixon

HS2 Enabling Works - Area South (submitted by Costain-Skanska JV)

Sustainability SECBE Award 2021 Winner

For Costain-Skanska JV, the Area South Enabling Works Contract (EWC) is one of the most challenging construction projects ever undertaken. Its ambitious and multidisciplinary programme of works is scrutinised by the HS2 Act which underpins the planning regime, the HS2 Environmental Statement setting out the baseline and predicted environmental impact and the Environmental Minimum Requirements detailing the minimum construction standards and stakeholder commitments. These guidelines are supported by Environmental Management Plans and specialists’ expertise across all disciplines which have led EWC to become a pioneer in setting a new benchmark for environmental delivery across the wider construction industry.

The scale of EWC is vast with 100 work packages covering 27km and more than 20 construction sites, including the biggest archaeological exhumation programme in Europe, where over 20,000 bodies were exhumated in one of the most technological and innovative archaeology digs ever undertaken – featuring in the BBC documentary ‘The Biggest Dig’. The EWC project scale has cumulated in over 14 million man-hours worked to date, all within one of the busiest cities in the world, with a vast percentage of the works taking place alongside Euston railway station that supports 145,000 people a day. CSjv met these huge challenges whilst also delivering extensive carbon savings and sustainability efficiencies, leaving a lasting legacy on the construction industry through the realisation of over 50 sustainability opportunities and upskilling of over 15 supply chain members.

CSjv demonstrated ongoing carbon reduction commitments through a variety of initiatives including the recently launched 2021 Carbon Strategy. The strategy aims to decarbonise and push forward the culture on the EWC that places carbon at the forefront of decision-making. Its foundations are built on 5 pillars:

  • Carbon Leaders Forum - allow positive dialogue on carbon in construction, explore best practice implementation and discuss lessons learnt;
  • Eliminating Diesel - identify all sources of diesel consumption, prioritise hotspots and encourage transfer onto alternative low-carbon solutions;
  • Idling Reduction - drive a 25% reduction in the idling of heavy plant against the project baseline; 
  • 2 Net Zero Sites – identify carbon emissions in all 3 scopes, explore where reductions are feasible to be achieved and work towards a net-zero site;
  • Carbon Awareness training - deliver carbon training to all staff to enhance carbon awareness and increase engagement across the project.

This has already led to 4,808 tonnes of carbon efficiencies being identified through on-site operations and 100% sustainable sourcing.

Key to achieving the environmental successes has been the development of a culture where environmental factors are at the front line of professional practice, which has been led by an Environmental Management representative being placed at every level in the organisation – from the senior leadership team where the Head of Environment sits, down to the Environmental Advisors who interface with and upskill site operatives and supervisors. This is highlighted through the project’s complete transition from red diesel to an HVO biofuel. Further to this, the use of hydrogen and solar-powered welfare has become the norm, and CSjv has successfully trialled the use of fully electric plant currently available in the market.

An integral part of driving this culture has been the implementation of the Environment & Sustainability Opportunities Matrix which give visibility across the entire lifecycle of an opportunity, from concept to feasibility through to implementation and provide an overview of all best practices spanning a wide variety of environment and sustainability themes with the possibility of attributing indirect benefits to other disciplines. These matrices are a key preconstruction and handover document for all work packages – with works unable to start without one in place.

Key facts:

  • Delivering carbon savings of over 4,800 tonnes CO2e through the decarbonisation of operational activities: Through the development of an Environment & Sustainability Opportunities process and a Project Carbon Strategy, CSjv has realised over 4,800 tonnes of CO2e reductions. The upskilling of work package teams, along with the creation of a Carbon Leaders Forum and through the implementation of an internal environmental communications strategy, has empowered work package teams to place carbon as a key factor during the decision-making process. The plan is to drive this further during 2021 with the CSjv challenging two sites to aim to reduce emissions as much as possible during the life cycle of the project.
  • Creating a sustainability culture, where sustainability factors are considered throughout the decision-making process: Based on exemplary environmental management, the CSjv team ensured that environmental risks and opportunities are given the priority needed to deliver change and a lasting legacy on the construction industry. Through Environment & Sustainability Opportunities workshops, Designing out Waste Workshops, Sustainability Impact Weeks, a Carbon Leaders Forum and an extensive training programme, a culture was quickly developed to empower and inspire the next generation of engineers who have managed over 14 million work man hours without a major incident occurring.
  • Using the principles of circular economy to deliver significant sustainability driven efficiencies: This is highlighted through a project-wide crushing strategy that has been introduced to ensure as much demolition arisings could be recycled and used on the site they originated. The strategy was implemented across 20 sites, through the upskilling of 15 contractors to consistently manage the crushing operations under the WRAP Quality Protocol. The crushing strategy realised the removal of over 35,000 vehicles movements off the local road network; 162,700 tonnes of demolition material crushed; 1,431,000 litres of fuel savings and almost 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions eliminated.

  • Client: High Speed Two (HS2 Ltd)
  • Project partner: Costain-Skanska Joint Venture (CSjv)

About the Sustainability Award: 

High environmental and climate performance in construction aims to meet present day needs for housing, working environments and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in times to come. It seeks to limit impact on the natural environment and demonstrate whole life sustainability. It is most effective when organisational culture, high design quality, technical innovation and transferability are abundant. More info.

Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2021 Summit & Awards Ceremony on Thurs 1st July 2021. Free attendance.

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