a concrete bridge being constructed

New report on the potential to reduce carbon emissions in the construction sector

Extending the lifespan, repairing and strengthening of existing infrastructure is one way to reduce the carbon footprint. But engineering education is also important, to be able to design and build structures with a lower carbon footprint.

Decarbonisation is about reducing or eliminating carbon emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere. The goal is to mitigate climate change and create a better and more sustainable environment.

A working group consisting of experts from industry and researchers has, on behalf of the European Commission, explored the potential for decarbonisation in the construction sector. Particular focus has been on the transport infrastructure, such as bridges and other constructions. In a recent report, they describe the current situation and the possibilities.

Extend the life of existing infrastructure

One of the researchers who worked on the report is Wit Derkowski, associate professor at the Department of Building Technology.

“I mainly worked on the assessment of existing infrastructure and how to extend the lifespan, retrofit and strengthen them. In this way, you can build less new infrastructure, or just reuse components from older structures.”

“Another area I contributed knowledge in was the design of facilities, mainly in the precast concrete technology, with a view to how these can be dismantled and reused in the future.”

Importance of relevant education

Wit Derkowski also highlighted the need for increased funding for university research in the area.

“Likewise, I underlined the important role that engineering education plays in designing and building structures with a low carbon footprint. Civil engineering curricula at many universities need to be revised and new postgraduate courses should be offered. As a good practice, I mentioned the Sustainable Structural Engineering master programme given in Växjö by the Department of Building Technology.”

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