Agenda item

Embodied Carbon

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Highways and Transportation outlining the service’s current position regarding the issue of embodied carbon and providing details on actions being taken in this area. 


The Committee considered the report of the Chief Officer Highways and Transportation which outlined the current practices undertaken within the department to address the climate emergency, specifically regarding embodied carbon.  


Mr Paul Russell, Civil Engineering Manager, Highways and Transportation attended the meeting to present the report and began by highlighting the services’ commitment to o tackling the climate crisis. However as development and building innately creates carbon the Service had established a Climate Emergency Task Force to support its work looking at how carbon is generated, namely through use of;  

• Asphalt 

• Concrete 

• Steel 

• Other raw materials 

• Materials sent to landfill 

• Construction Vehicles 


The report considered four main topics; 

1. Carbon calculation tools; the carbon cost of maintaining roads also has to be incorporated into carbon calculations. Highways and Transportation (H&T) have been working on capital programmes such as East Leeds Orbital Route (ELOR), and the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme Phase 2 (LFAS2). Whilst in development these schemes have created carbon emissions but  in the long run they will prove to be carbon saving as they will reduce  congestion and flood damage. H&T development frameworks included carbon calculation tools and carbon targets embedded within them. However part of the solution towards lower carbon emissions may be the need for less infrastructure to be delivered in the long term. 


The Committee considered how city building carbon calculations could be captured and used to influence future planning conversations with Government, by collaborating with university partners within the city. Councillor Hayden suggested working with Leeds Climate Commission and Yorkshire & Humber Climate Commission to develop this idea. 


2. Procurement; Highways and Transportation is developing a suite of three frameworks internally 

·  Minor Works Contractor Framework for contracts under £2million  

·  Intermediate Works Contractor Framework for contracts between £2million and £7 million 

·  Major Works Contractor Framework for contracts over £7million 

Each of these frameworks was developed within the Leeds Outcomes, Themes and Measurements (TOM’s) in order to build social value into those procurement processes. 


3. Low carbon materials; the pricing for these materials is still a lot higher than conventional materials, which is being exacerbated by the current issues of the rate of inflation and the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Trials of lower carbon materials are being conducted, such as on the A63 in Garforth.  

4. Offsetting; measures include tree planting. ELOR alone included 3,000 trees and 30,000 whips being planted. There is a balance to be had between reducing road use, and reducing congestion, in order to prevent carbon emissions.  


The Committee discussed ways in which the Council could work with various partners regarding the research of embodied carbon within the city, as well as some of the work already being done in the city by external organisations and businesses; particularly involving the universities and the Leeds Climate Commission and the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission.  

 It was noted that this is a quickly developing area, and the Committee would welcome further reports from the Chief Officer Highways and Transportation in due course.  


RECOMMENDATION - To note the contents of the report and the discussions at the meeting, along with the maters identified for future action detailed above. 


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