A new approach to innovation for infrastructure

18/11/2021

A new approach to innovation for infrastructure

As the government continues to place infrastructure at the centre of its Build Back Better initiative, Neil Cross, National Sales Manager for Anderton Concrete, explores how collaborative approaches to innovation are supporting the manufacture of carbon efficient building materials that set the standard for sustainability, efficiency and longevity.  

The UK is the world’s first major economy to set a target of being net zero by 2050, with the government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution outlining its commitment to accelerating its path to achieving these ambitious aims.

As part of this, the Future Homes Standard provides construction professionals with a clear framework on how to achieve high levels of energy efficiency and low carbon heating for residential developments. The government’s additional incentives, including the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, Homes Upgrade Grant and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, also provide guidance and accompanying investment for successfully reducing the carbon output of both residential and commercial buildings.

However, whilst these new initiatives are being placed at the centre of the government’s plan to achieving net zero, the infrastructure sector has been proactively pushing decarbonisation for a number of years. In 2018, the Department for Transport challenged the rail industry to remove all diesel-only trains by 2040, whilst the Scottish Government outlined a target to decarbonise domestic passenger rail services by 2035.

The release of Network Rail’s Environmental and Social Performance Policy in 2017 outlined key objectives for improving operational energy and carbon efficiency through a framework of energy and carbon saving measures. This would be achieved through the introduction of innovation, in addition to encouraging energy efficiency and ensuring carbon management throughout the entire supply chain.

These objectives not only provided the entire industry with guidance on how to proactively accomplish the manufacture and installation of carbon efficient solutions throughout the rail industry, but simultaneously highlighted the importance of collaboration throughout every stage of the design, installation and maintenance phases to ensure a consistent and long term approach to achieving net zero.

On the right track

This collective approach to decarbonising the rail network is currently being actioned by rail providers, manufacturers and contractors, who together are undertaking a proactive approach to the design and manufacture of building products that have significantly reduced carbon, without compromising on quality and performance.

Concrete cable protection products are popular throughout the sector due to their low lifetime cost, preference by installers, non-combustible properties and unrivalled resilience. However, the material may be perceived by some professionals as being potentially carbon heavy due to its production processes.

In response to this, Anderton Concrete has been proactively working with industry partners to push the expectations and boundaries of precast concrete solutions by producing products that feature significantly reduced carbon and have a lower overall weight. This includes the development of its new “Eco Trough” range, which will successfully reduce the overall weight of its C/1/9 Trough to just 21kg, bringing it well under the advised 25kg ‘one man lift’ limit. 

This not only significantly reduces manual handling concerns and streamlines the installation stages to effectively minimise potential risk to engineers when installing the troughing, it also supports rail providers in successfully achieving a more carbon efficient installation that paves the way for a net zero future.

As part of this commitment, Anderton Concrete has also reduced the embedded carbon by at least 40% by removing a proportion of the troughing’s mass and by incorporating alternative materials into the manufacturing process. All of this has been achieved while maintaining the desired resilience and non-combustible properties associated with precast concrete troughing. 

Working with a leading industry partner, it has also recently reduced the embodied carbon in its platform copings by a substantial 40%, having been approached and asked to investigate ways of achieving a more environmentally efficient construction.

This not only significantly reduces manual handling concerns and streamlines the installation stages to effectively minimise potential risk to engineers when installing the troughing, it also supports rail providers in successfully achieving a more carbon efficient installation that paves the way for a net zero future.

Laying the groundwork

This commitment to decarbonisation is also being realised throughout all areas of infrastructure, including the construction and maintenance of highways, particularly the development of bridge abutments and retaining wall systems that feature reduced carbon, whilst simultaneously supporting the use of recycled materials.

Over the last 12 months, Anderton Concrete has collaborated with Tensar International on the development of its new ARES® Retaining Wall System, which combines high performance retaining walls with ease of installation. This is achieved through the use of large incremental precast concrete panel facings, which are installed in conjunction with Tensar International’s Tensar® Geogrids, using high efficiency Bodkin Connectors to provide an easy to install, low cost integral system that has a design life of up to 120 years. 

The versatile nature of the system supports the use of a wide range of backfills, including recycled materials, to support sustainable construction, whilst providing impressive cost efficiencies.

As Tensar International’s main precast concrete supplier, Anderton Concrete also manufactures its market leading BBA accredited TensarTech® TW3 and TW1 wall systems, which also offer the ability to utilise industry waste products as low cost fill materials, such as unburnt colliery spoil, to not only deliver impressive cost efficiencies, but support significant reduction in carbon, due to the amount of imported fill materials. 

Adopting a bespoke approach

The versatile nature of precast concrete can support every area of infrastructure in achieving cost efficient, sustainable solutions, by undertaking a bespoke approach to design and manufacture.

By working in conjunction with a manufacturer to create a completely unique building product, construction professionals can streamline resource efficiencies to create cost efficient solutions that feature the lowest embodied carbon possible. This is currently being achieved across a diverse range of projects, from energy and utilities, right through to transport and healthcare.

As the government continues to place the construction industry at the core of its objectives to achieve net zero by 2050, professionals can successfully increase the environmental efficiency of their developments by working in close collaboration with manufacturers to design and install building products that not only feature reduced carbon, but support the use of recycled materials throughout the entire build process.

Anderton Concrete operates under the Supplier Sustainability Code of Business Conduct and Procurement Policy (SSCBC) and is committed to the BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing Standard through the local procurement of high quality materials to facilitate the manufacture of a diverse portfolio of precast concrete products that feature the lowest possible embodied carbon, whilst being of the highest quality.

For further information on Anderton Concrete’s standard and bespoke manufacturing capabilities and market leading offering, please visit: www.andertonconcrete.co.uk or call 0333 234 3434.