Net Zero

13 DEC 2022


National Highways has become the first major roads organisation to achieve a global carbon management standard

The government-owned company’s carbon management system has achieved PAS 2080 accreditation, recognising its plans to reduce carbon during the design, construction and operation of England’s strategic road network.

Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 2080 ‘carbon management in infrastructure’ is a global specification for managing whole-life carbon in infrastructure.

Developed by the Construction Leadership Council’s Green Construction Board with the British Standards Institute (BSI), it provides a consistent framework for evaluating and managing carbon across infrastructure.

The standard recognises organisations that have strategies in place to reduce carbon and develop more collaborative ways of working to promote innovation, delivering benefit to society and communities, and making an important contribution to tackling climate change.

The government-owned organisation’s net zero highways plan, published in 2021, set out its approach to achieve net zero.

It puts roads at the heart of Britain’s net zero future through three key commitments - achieving net zero for its own operations by 2030, delivering net zero road maintenance and construction by 2040 and supporting net zero carbon travel on our roads by 2050. 

Mike Wilson, executive director, safety engineering and standards for National Highways, said: “We’re pleased to achieve this global standard. This recognises National Highways’ effective plan to deliver carbon savings right across the company and demonstrates our leadership, continual improvement, and constant learning from best practice in the industry.

“By leading the way in delivering more sustainable solutions through design, construction and operation, National Highways will leave a positive green legacy for generations to come.

“This accreditation is one of a number of ambitious commitments for 2022 toward decarbonising construction and maintenance, working with partners across the sector.”

Separately, National Highways’ proposed Lower Thames Crossing scheme has also received PAS 2080 accreditation in its own right, the first UK road project to do so, highlighting its commitment to exploring carbon-neutral construction as a Pathfinder scheme and help the UK reach net zero by 2050.

The ambitious project involves the construction of 14.3 miles of new road and a 2.6-mile tunnel under the Thames to relieve congestion at Dartford, provide more reliable journeys for local communities and improve the flow of freight to and from major ports.

For road projects, new and updated processes and procedures have been introduced that will help the company consistently assess the carbon impacts of each project. 

These will also assist in identifying and implementing low carbon opportunities, such as net zero materials or low carbon construction methods, in a consistent manner at every stage of a project’s lifecycle from conception to delivery.

For operations, the company is introducing a series of updates to the existing processes from next year, which will inform how it plans and manages renewal and operational maintenance programmes, so that it identifies interventions and changes in ways of working that support low-carbon delivery.

The company will be audited annually to demonstrate year-on-year improvements in managing and reducing whole-life carbon emissions.

Similarly, it will develop more training and resources around carbon and net zero, along with asking contractors and their own sub-contractors to implement their own PAS 2080 accredited carbon management systems by the end of 2025.

Further to the carbon management system PAS 2080 accreditation, the company has also published new road maps for materials and is shortly publishing its ‘low carbon opportunities register’.

National Highways’ net zero roadmaps for concrete, steel and asphalt demonstrate to the supply chain and public the technologies and the steps the company has identified to achieve net zero emissions for each material.

They identify and quantify the potential impact of decarbonisation levers available for each material, and how National Highways will seek to realise them.

To help identify carbon interventions, National Highways is developing a live Low Carbon Opportunities Register as a central repository of low carbon design and delivery options.

This register will review opportunities against current standards, technological readiness, and commercial viability, and will allow companies to learn from best practice with projects feeding in where measures have successfully been implemented.

The company will be hosting industry briefing sessions on these early in the new year.


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