Standardizing carbon neutrality in delivery of complex projects

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5°C report of 2018 assesses the impact of global warming, necessitating immediate action for countries to decarbonize. While research has focused on sustainable strategies in the design and construction of environmentally responsive buildings and quantifying the extent of carbon emissions from construction materials, there is a knowledge gap in the extent to which complex projects contribute to these emissions from conception to operational phase. Complex projects are large in scale and are characterised by intricate supply chains, numerous uncertainties and may require specialist expertise. This research will seek to model the carbon footprint throughout the project’s lifecycle, supply chains, material consumption and resource utilization in order to address the question: does standardising zero carbon emissions in the delivery of complex projects significantly contribute to lowering the global temperature rise?

Noting that both the city of Manchester and Melbourne declared climate emergencies in 2019 and are committed to achieving zero carbon targets by 2050, the study proposes to utilize case studies in the two cities to model the carbon footprint of complex projects from the concept phase to design, construction, testing, commissioning, handover and operations stage. Through interviews with climate change experts, zero carbon emission strategies will be identified and simulated using system dynamics modelling software to arrive at optimal emission reduction strategies for complex projects at minimal cost.

The outcomes of this research will provide policymakers with essential information and tools for quantifying and monitoring carbon emissions within complex projects. Consequently, this will inform coherent national development policies and encourage sustainable development in the management of projects; directly contributing to sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and the accomplishment of a carbon-free future globally.

Dr Felix Kin Peng Hui, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne

Dr Obuks Ejohwomu, The University of Manchester