Decarbonising Our Infrastructure

Our joint Annual Conference 2021, hosted jointly by CECA Wales and our partners at ACE (Association for Consultancy and Engineering) in Wales and the County Surveyors Society (CSS) Cymru, took place “virtually” over 2 consecutive mornings starting on the 11th May and concluding on the 12th May 2021. The latter group represents Wales’ highway authorities and so there was a transport theme to the proceedings but, in reality, the discussions went way beyond CECA Wales, ACE Cymru and the County Surveyors Society Cymru. Importantly, this was an opportunity for both public and private sectors to discuss how they could jointly address the challenges of this year’s conference theme : “Decarbonising Our Infrastructure”.

Why this theme? Pretty obvious I guess but here’s a few more clues!

As we move into a brave new world which is dominated by concerns over climate change and the need to adapt our lifestyles to cope with this, the role, and carbon impact, of our infrastructure becomes evermore critical. Not just what we build but how we build it, how we justify what we build and the “value” of what we build. The performance of our existing assets is, of course, even more critical. But, arguably, the models that we’ve traditionally followed are becoming less and less applicable to delivering a sustainable and low carbon future. The same could be said about our businesses!

Our conference considered :

  • What are the policy, legislative and moral drivers to decarbonise?
  • What are the examples of mitigation and adaptation measures that we need to meet the challenges of climate change?
  • What technical innovations are available to reduce carbon and what skills are needed to deliver low carbon infrastructure?
  • How do we measure the carbon impacts of our infrastructure – and compare it against costs?
  • How should we justify investment in and funding of infrastructure projects in the future to deliver clean and inclusive growth?
  • Can the public and private sectors work better, together to drive greater decarbonisation? Do we need to change the procurement process and do we need to change our business models?

Our two keynote speakers (one for each morning) were Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner, and Andy Felayne, Welsh Government Deputy Director for Infrastructure, and both set the scene perfectly for us.

As with our previous conferences, we drew out the thoughts, observations and concerns of our delegates in our breakout sessions, the chat function and the Q&A with each of our speakers. Once the dust settles we’ll capture all of this in a formal “post-Conference” report along with an Action Plan outlining how we can, practically, decarbonise our industry.

If you were unlucky enough to miss the conference or you made it and want to revisit parts or all of it then here are the recordings of the presentations from both days for you to download :

DAY 1_ Decarbonising our Infrastructure, CECA Wales, ACE & CSS Cymru Joint Annual Conference 2021-20210511_092947-Meeting Recording.mp4

DAY 2_ Decarbonising our Infrastructure, CECA Wales, ACE & CSS Cymru Joint Annual Conference 2021-20210512_093033-Meeting Recording.mp4

And here’s a reminder of the “Conference Programme” :

Day 1 (11th May)

0930    Welcome and introduction – Ed Evans

0935    Keynote speech – Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner

1005    Session 1 : The local government plan – Ben Sears, WLGA

1030    Comfort break

1040    Session 2 : Justifying investment in a brave new world – Alexandra Egge, Mott MacDonald

1105    Session 3 :  Contractor innovation or just good business sense? – Shaun Thompson, Centregreat Ltd and Anthony Lynch, Hayes Engineering Ltd

1130    Breakout Session : What can the public and private sectors do better, together, to decarbonise our infrastructure?

1150    Summing up and introduction to Day 2

1200    Close Day 1

Day 2 (12th May)

0930    Welcome and introduction – Ed Evans

0935    Keynote speech – Andy Felayne, Deputy Director of Infrastructure, Welsh Government

1005    Session 1 : Reducing carbon – What, why, and how? – Lara Young and Hywel Woolf, Costain

1030    Comfort break

1040    Session 2 : Measuring and Managing Carbon – Lewis Barlow, SWECO

1105    Session 3 : Contractor innovation or just good business sense? – Emma Thomas and Daniel Kinch, Griffiths Ltd

1130    Breakout Session : How can the public and private sectors work better, together, to decarbonise our infrastructure?

1150    Summing Up

1200    Close Conference

And if you need a reminder of the speaker biographies, here they are :

Ed Evans, Director, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Wales

Edward is the Director of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Wales. A Chartered Civil Engineer with 30 years’ experience of delivering a broad range of technical services and policy development to a senior level across the public and private sectors in Wales.

He has previously served as Chairman of the Board of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and is currently Chairman of Keep Wales Tidy and a Trustee at Citizens Advice and Pedal Power, a local charity for disabled children and adults.

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner

Sophie Howe is the world’s only Future Generations Commissioner. Her role is to provide advice to the Government and other public bodies in Wales on delivering social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being for current and future generations and assessing and reporting on how they are delivering. Sophie took up post in 2016 and has led high profile interventions around transport planning, education reform and climate change challenging the Government and others to demonstrate how they are taking account of future generations. Her interventions have secured fundamental changes to land use planning policy, major transport schemes and Government policy on housing, ensuring that decisions taken today are fit for the future. She has represented Wales at the UN the OECD and on a number of International Forums including Chairing the Network of Institutions for Future Generations.  Sophie has served as an Adviser to two Welsh First Ministers providing policy and political advice on communities, local government, equality and community safety where she led to development of Wales’ first legislation to tackle violence against women and girls. Sophie is named in the top 100 Business Women in Wales, is a fellow at Cardiff University Business School and Swansea University, holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and a degree in law and politics. She lives in Cardiff with her husband and their five children.

Ben Sears, Sustainability, Environmental, and Transport Policy Support Officer, WLGA

Since 2019, Ben has worked as an Environmental and Sustainability Policy Support Officer at the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA). Increasingly his role is focused on supporting local government decarbonisation, as authorities take action towards ambitious carbon reduction targets. Prior to this role, since 2008, Ben has worked in environmental and sustainability roles for Amey, Landmarc Support Services, TACP Ltd, and Sir Robert McAlpine, working on a range of civil and commercial projects.

Alexandra Egge, Mott MacDonald

Alexandra is a Town Planner at Mott MacDonald who takes an innovative approach to the integration of policy and social outcomes in Planning, design, scheme appraisal and stakeholder engagement. She is a specialist in the analysis of the impact of the built environment upon wellbeing and has developed the award-winning WELLIE tool to embed the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act into the WelTAG process and scheme development from the earliest stages. WELLIE enables practitioners to take a holistic view of the impact of infrastructure upon wider community outcomes in both the near and long-terms, encouraging innovative approaches towards the valuation of social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability. Alex has an MSc in Spatial Planning and Urban Design from The Bartlett School of Planning and was awarded the 2019 Constructing Excellence Wales ‘Future Leader’ award, the 2019 RTPI Cymru Young Planner of the Year award and is currently shortlisted for the 2021 We Are The City ‘Rising Star Award’.

Shaun Thompson, Group Business Development Director at Centregreat Ltd. Shaun recently joined Centregreat Ltd. as Group Business Development Director supporting its award winning, multi-disciplinary engineering divisions. He is the business lead for their sustainable development programme, including overseeing de-carbonisation plans. Amongst other things, this includes the roll-out of Centregreat’s new and exciting Electrical Vehicle Power Port system. This innovative solution supplements electricity drawn from the national grid, with solar power.

Before starting his new role, Shaun spent over 30 years in the rail industry starting as a management trainee with British Rail and was heavily involved within Railtrack project team in the lead up to privatisation. After successfully helping to steer the Eastern Region through privatisation, he went on to develop the business case and secure funding for several major infrastructure investment projects in London on the South East. In 1996 he joined Railtrack’s major projects division in Waterloo and was involved in the delivery of many infrastructure and train safety and reliability enhancements projects, including Ashford International.

In 2002, he worked for Network Rail’s Great Western Region in Swindon managing UK rail programmes. In 2012 he established the Rail Division for Alun Griffiths Contractors and successfully managed the division’s growth from a team of one to one of Wales’ largest employers.

A passionate advocate of public transport, he firmly believes our shared de-carbonisation goals will transform all our lives for the better.

Simon Jones, Director of Infrastructure, Welsh Government

A Chartered Engineer, Simon has delivered complex national infrastructure projects in Wales and overseas, has led large multi-disciplinary teams and has successfully managed business units within the UK’s largest engineering consultancy.

Since July 2017 Simon has been Director for Economic Infrastructure, Department for Economy and Transport at the Welsh Government.  Simon’s directorate includes Transport, ICT Infrastructure, and Property.

Simon has the broad track record and reputation to deliver this role, as well as the recent experience of doing so successfully.  He has built a team, worked with Ministers and understands the wider strategic objectives.

Lara Young, Group Carbon Manager for Costain Group

Lara names Energy and Carbon Manager of the Year at the 2021 edie sustainability leaders award and Highway UK 2020 Associate Laureate, is the instigator and driving force behind establishing and implementing Costain’s Climate Change Action Plan to transition to a net-zero organisation. Challenging existing business models and processes, her role is to embed carbon management and drive the design and delivery of whole life low carbon solutions across the Costain Group. Lara is leading the integration of the world’s first standard for managing infrastructure carbon, PAS2080 within the Costain Group.

In 2020 Lara joined the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Carbon Project steering group and is working to incorporate systems thinking to help articulate a future vision for UK infrastructure.

Lara was recently listed in the Energy Saving Trust “Eight Great Women list” for International Women’s day.

Hywel Woolf, Costain As a Chartered Environmentalist, Hywel has spent his career working with a number of organisations and sectors in Environmental Management roles. Including Environmental Lead on the 2019 Construction Excellence Wales Sustainable Project of the Year, the A465 Heads of the Valleys. More recently, in his role as Discipline Lead for Environmental Consultancy Hywel works with a range of organisations to support them on their Net Zero journey. Currently Hywel is part of the South Wales Industrial Cluster team, supporting Welsh industry on the journey to make net zero a reality by working closely with industry partners. Most recently Hywel has been a board member for the Future Generations Leadership Academy, working closer with the Future Generations team to ensure the well-being goals are engrained throughout the South Wales Industrial Cluster. Hywel brings practical and technical knowledge of cross sector decarbonisation, specific to industry and infrastructure.

Lewis Barlow, SWECO

As a Fellow of the ICE and a professional reviewer for Chartered Environmentalists and Chartered Engineers, Lewis strives to share carbon reduction best practice wherever possible. He is recognised internationally for his skills and experience in driving carbon reduction on major projects, and with his Carbon Team won the NCE100 Low Carbon Leader award two years in a row for their work in reducing carbon and driving innovation across the infrastructure sector.

Emma Thomas, Future Generations Manager at Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd Emma Thomas is an environmental professional with a particular focus on resources and waste related issues.  Emma is a Commissioner with the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales , Future Generations Manager with Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd, Chartered Waste Manager and CIWM Cymru Centre Councillor.  Working with the waste management industry, Emma authored Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 402:2013 Waste Resource Management – Specification for Performance Reporting.  She was heavily involved in the drafting of the Construction and Demolition Waste Sector Plan for the Welsh Government.  Emma also delivered Constructing Excellence in Wales’ circular economy and built environment strategy for Wales.

Daniel Kinch, Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd

Daniel is a materials specialist with 16 years working in the quarrying industry. Daniel has pushed the use of recycled materials throughout his time in the industry.  From various positions Daniel has played a part overseeing record volumes of recycled material used in the manufacture of quarry products.  Daniel has joined the team at Alun Griffiths Contractors to increase the use of recycled product and progress Griffiths’ transition to a circular economy.

The post-Conference report will be published over the summer period and will be available via this website.

Ed Evans, Director CECA Wales