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Lowering the carbon footprint of transport construction

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Waka Kotahi is outlining a new commitment to lowering the carbon footprint created during construction of its New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects.

Boats moored in an estuary with land on either side.

Penlink, a project to create a vital new transport connection in north Auckland, is the first Waka Kotahi project to use the new approach. Projects worth more than $100m will aim to reduce construction emissions by at least 10%, with suppliers encouraged to look for ways to make even greater reductions to carbon.

National Manager Infrastructure Delivery Mark Kinvig says Waka Kotahi has a vision for a low carbon, safe and healthy transport system.

“This will be challenging to achieve and we’re at the start of the journey. One of the areas where Waka Kotahi can quickly start to tackle carbon emissions is project construction.”

“Construction of infrastructure projects use significant resources. Concrete, steel, asphalt, and fuel used in earthworks are the biggest sources of emissions from building transport projects.”

“We are aiming to reduce these impacts as much as possible and lead the transport sector on reducing construction emissions.”

“Empowering the industry to use their expertise to tackle this issue is key, so we will encourage our suppliers to innovate and come up with ways to lower emissions.”

“The contract to build Penlink, which has just gone out to tender, will include a financial incentive for meeting a carbon reduction target.”

“This new approach to procurement also encourages design competition and challenge our standards to reduce construction emissions. Changes to standards would still need to deliver essential outcomes like safety,” says Mark Kinvig.

Waka Kotahi plans to use a similar approach to reduce construction emissions on other major New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects.

Other initiatives will include:

  • Assessing suppliers bidding for contracts on how their construction methods result in fewer emissions.
  • Accelerating improvements through new sustainable infrastructure and resource efficiency policies, as well as the use of an independent sustainability rating tool run by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council.
  • For projects still in development we will continue to look at potential changes that could lower emissions while still providing the outcomes promised to communities. Detailed design and construction methodology will provide opportunities, for example through optimisation of plant, fuel use, earthworks and using materials closer to project sites.

“Significantly reducing construction emissions will require major changes in technology and practice during the next decade. Sector-wide innovation is also needed to reduce construction emissions from steel, aggregate, bitumen and concrete, where opportunities are currently limited,” says Mark Kinvig

“Waka Kotahi is committed to working with Government, the industry, communities and mana whenua to make the changes needed on the Government’s pathway to a net zero-carbon land transport system by 2050.”

Waka Kotahi’s New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects feature a range of measures to help reduce vehicle emissions. These include new walking and cycling paths, managed lanes that prioritise public transport and shared journeys to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips and enabling public transport improvements.

About the New Zealand Upgrade Programme

Waka Kotahi and KiwiRail are delivering the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, the Government’s $8.7 billion transport investment in growing areas across the country. Communities can look forward to transport improvements that provide more travel choices, help people get where they’re going safely and grow our economy, while responding to the impacts of travel on the environment.

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