Drive to cut carbon emissions pays off

  • Laing O’Rourke has more than halved total carbon emissions since 2008
  • Offsite manufacturing and digital engineering play a major role in carbon reduction
  • New technologies and approaches continue to improve energy efficiency

Eddy Taylor receiving the certificate

Laing O’Rourke has dramatically reduced the amount of carbon emissions its UK business generates. 

Since 2008, the company has cut its carbon output year on year to achieve an absolute reduction of 52 per cent, exceeding its target of halving carbon generation by 2020.

This recently earned Laing O’Rourke a Gold Award from the Carbon and Energy Management Reduction Scheme (CEMARS), the internationally recognised certification scheme that verifies organisations’ direct carbon footprint. 

Head of Sustainability for Laing O’Rourke’s UK operations, Eddy Taylor, said: “This success is due to a combination of carbon-cutting initiatives - our investment in fuel-efficient plant, equipment and vehicles, improved delivery methods, increased application of offsite manufacture and the promotion of sustainable behaviours, such as the use of video-conferencing wherever possible. Other interventions include enhanced temporary electrics controls for projects and increasing use of the latest LED lighting systems”.

Sally Grewcock, Environment Manager for Laing O’Rourke’s Asset Businesses division, said: “High-quality, well-managed sites are more energy-efficient. Our plant hire teams have worked hard to reduce energy consumption, for example LED lighting is now utilised in all bulk heads on hoardings and within the tower crane light boxes. Furthermore, using precision manufactured component parts, coupled with efficient delivery, reduces site energy use substantially and is another way our offsite manufacturing and digital engineering approach can be of benefit.

“Equally, how we power our sites also directly effects carbon emissions. We endeavour to connect sites to the electricity grid as early as possible, instead of using diesel-burning electricity generators. Where generators are unavoidable, an efficient site will switch to smaller ones at night and times of low demand”.

A recent carbon-reducing innovation, trialled at Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway Hospital, saw dehumidifiers replace electric heating to dry out wet clothes in onsite ‘drying rooms’. This was done previously at the Francis Crick Institute in London. It also improves comfort levels for workers using the drying room, and has the potential to be adopted as standard practice.

At the new Elizabeth Line railway station sites at Liverpool Street and Tottenham Court Road in London, Laing O’Rourke is on track to reduce projected energy consumption by 22 per cent compared with the baseline agreed with Crossrail.
Ashley Webb, Environment Manager, explained: “At Tottenham Court Road, we introduced automatic power factor correction – sophisticated ‘black box’ technology ensuring electricity is used efficiently – combined with the most highly fuel-efficient plant equipped with engine management systems, efficient lighting and site accommodation. The project is expecting total savings of 800 tonnes of carbon. That equates to the amount of carbon generated by 1,700 return tickets to Chicago.”

“We have developed a plant utilisation dashboard which enables the sites to monitor how operators use plant, equipment and vehicles, so we can encourage them to work more efficiently,” said Sally. 

Laing O’Rourke’s Select Plant Hire business now operates one of the most efficient and sustainable fleets in the sector, with average CO2 emissions of 115g/km compared to the UK average of 121.4g/km. Through improved environmental credentials, Laing O’Rourke benefits from reduced fuel costs and a lower carbon footprint with consistent year on year CO2 reductions across the fleet.

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