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Carbon calculations: how transparent are yours?


In April 2023, the revised version of PAS 2080 was finally published. PAS 2080:2023 Carbon management in buildings and infrastructure sets out principles related to how carbon emissions should be measured, recorded and reduced by asset owners or managers, designers, constructors and product or material suppliers.


PAS 2080 was originally created with infrastructure in mind but has been extended in the latest version to include buildings too. This is what it says about measuring carbon:


“A carbon management process should have robust monitoring and transparent reporting at frequent intervals during the delivery of projects and/or programmes of work to highlight the progress of carbon reductions against targets.”


The latest version makes it clear that it is not enough to report only on your own organisation’s emissions. If you are not looking up and down the supply chain – Scope 3 emissions in carbon counting speak – you are kidding yourselves about carbon reduction.


National Highways, which announced that it was the “first roads organisation in the world” to achieve PAS 2080 accreditation back in December 2022, is now looking to its supply chain to get rigorous on its reporting. It has said that it will require all of its tier one and two suppliers to become accredited under PAS 2080 by 2025. Other road authorities and public sector clients are expected to follow suit.


Up until now, National Highways suppliers have been allowed to submit estimated carbon emission calculations based on general emission figures. But that won’t be good enough anymore.


“How do you monitor the journey to net zero if you have people guesstimating their carbon numbers?” says Gary Cook, managing director of Asphalt IQ. “If you are working on assumptions and guesses, you cannot benchmark or accurately assess any improvements. The errors become exponential.”


Carbon-IQ, by Asphalt IQ is a system which calculates and records the exact carbon footprint of asphalt surfacing or maintenance works, and records it in a digital smart tag embedded in the road surface. The geolocated data is stored on a database or can be read directly from the tag using a smart phone.


Asphalt IQ has developed an alternative specialised version of the software called Thermal IQ, which will be provided to Thermal Road Repairs (TRR) customers. It calculates asphalt savings per shift if using the TRR pothole and defect fixing technology, when compared to a standard repair methodology.


Currently National Highways’ general carbon emission figures for materials have just two values for asphalt: hot mix and warm mix which are 55kg and 53kg carbon per tonne of asphalt respectively. However, Carbon-IQ calculates the carbon footprint using the specific manufacturer’s declared carbon values for each asphalt mix. For example, In the North West of England, the embodied carbon figures for each one of Tarmac and Cemex’s asphalt mixes at the gate of their mixing plants can vary from as low as 28kg CO2e per tonne to as high as 79kg Co2e per tonne.


Transport is the other variable which generalised calculations do not accurately record. Asphalt IQ’s app includes transport of asphalt, transport of the plant needed for road laying and how people travel to site. The app automates the calculation of all but the last of these figures by programming in the equipment each contractor uses for each of its paving gangs. There are versions for contractors and for road authorities.


A foreman or supervisor records carbon emissions at the end of the shift via the app on a smart phone in a process that takes a few minutes. Cook believes that using the Carbon-IQ system to capture carbon figures will eliminate the risk of double accounting, since companies may be trying to account for carbon both up and down the supply chain.


Although Asphalt-IQ did not create Carbon-IQ with the requirements of PAS 2080 in mind, the new version of the standard has accelerated interest in the digital start-up. Asphalt IQ’s system is already up and running in one local authority with more authorities to follow in the second half of the year. Meanwhile the first Thermal IQ system is currently being rolled out to several of TRR’s customers.


PAS 2080 can be downloaded for free from the first link below.


 

Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. It invests significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve existing ones.


Thermal Road Repairs: Decarbonising the asphalt repair industry.

High output. Low emission. Zero waste. Permanent solution.


 

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