The biggest contributor of embodied carbon on construction projects is material selection, but this is closely followed by transportation needs. When calculating the impact of transportation emissions on a construction project, several factors come into play. Whilst many developers are now considerately choosing local contractors which is reducing the carbon cost of the necessary machinery and workers travelling to/from site, product selection continues to be price driven, with little regard for where the product or raw materials originate from.

Factors contributing to product transportation emissions include distance travelled, transportation modes used, and the carbon intensity of the transportation methods employed.

  • The distance between the manufacturing facility and the construction project site is a critical factor. If the manufacturer is located closer to the project, this will result in shorter transportation distances,¬†generally meaning lower transportation emissions.
  • The transportation modes also impact emissions. In Europe, we benefit from an extensive and well-connected transportation infrastructure, including road, rail, and waterways. This infrastructure allows for a range of transportation options, such as trucks, trains, or barges. In contrast, Asian manufacturers may rely more on long-haul shipping, which typically emits higher levels of carbon dioxide.
  • The carbon intensity of the transportation methods used by each manufacturer is another crucial aspect. The carbon intensity depends on factors such as fuel efficiency, emissions standards, and the energy sources used for transportation. In Europe, we generally have stricter environmental regulations and have better fuel efficiency standards for our transportation vehicles, resulting in lower carbon emissions.

Of course, it is necessary to evaluate the specific circumstances of each manufacturer and the transportation options available to them. Factors such as the exact locations of the manufacturers, their transportation networks, shipping routes, and the efficiency of their supply chains all contribute to the overall emissions impact on the construction project. However, the message here is clear; supporting local economies reduces carbon emissions.

 

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