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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

This month’s CSIC Smart Infrastructure Blog by Dr Daniel Summerbell, CSIC Research Associate, makes the case for categorising opportunities for material efficiency in construction.

Automating Concrete Construction (ACORN), is a collaborative project with the University of Bath and Dundee and aims to drive a new culture in the construction industry of using enough material – and no more – in order to enhance sector-wide sustainability and productivity.

Dr Daniel Summerbell’s Smart Infrastructure Blog highlights ACORN research and innovation on sustainable construction and sets out the importance of considering “capital emissions – those emitted during the manufacture of construction materials and those embodied in the materials themselves” as well as operational emissions associated with the physical building.

Concrete and steel are the main source of capital emissions, and while there is work towards decarbonisation there is need for material efficiency measures: “Other sources recognise the need for material efficiency measures, but do not predict that they will be implemented in time to meet 2050 net zero targets.”

Early research by the ACORN team shows the importance of categorising the opportunities for material efficiency in construction to avoid double-counting wherever possible.

Dr Summerbell writes: “The estimated improvements achievable varies depending on material source, construction stage, and construction process. One of the biggest opportunities is in the Overdesign category, where waste can be as high as 50 per cent. It is here that the ACORN project can deliver substantial advantages over conventional processes and designs.”

• The informative and thought-provoking monthly blogs are written by members of the CSIC team, partners and industry experts to showcase opinions and ideas from the forefront of smart infrastructure and construction. 

See all CSIC Smart Infrastructure Blogs and read the full blog by Dr Daniel Summerbell here.





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