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HS2 contractors lead the way achieving gold for sustainability

  • Two of HS2’s Main Works Civils Contractors, SCS JV and EKFB JV, have been the first HS2 construction teams to achieve the highest level of sustainability status

  • The Supply Chain Sustainability School assesses practices on site to lower emissions and reduce embedded carbon in construction

HS2 is leading the way in sustainability with two of its Main Works Civils Contractors being awarded the gold standard by the Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS) just two weeks after the project’s first ten sites went diesel-free


Part funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and industry partners, the Supply Chain Sustainability School was set up in 2012 to boost knowledge and collaboration in the built environment.


The school set up their Plant Charter in 2020 to support the UK’s ambition of Net Zero by 2050. Signatories are encouraged to take measures to lower emissions on construction sites, address and reduce tailpipe emissions, and train staff on why and how to reduce emissions. These measures result in improved air quality and more environmentally friendly working practices.


HS2’s Civils Contractors, Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV) and EKFB JV - a team made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall – have both been awarded the highest level under the Charter.

To achieve the gold standard, companies must meet standards set by the SCSS, be reassessed every 12 months, demonstrate increased competency in sustainable practices, attend multiple training events and be at the forefront of sharing best practice with other companies.


Speaking about the achievement Andrea Davidson, HS2 Ltd’s Head of Environment Sciences, said:


“With two of our contractors now achieving gold standard for sustainability, HS2 is really pioneering sustainable construction in the UK. The size of the project means that we are able to invest in innovative practices, allowing them to become mainstream and scalable which will make a huge difference to the sector in the future.


“We recently announced that ten of our construction sites are now totally diesel free, and now with this recognition we look forward to going further in our sustainability in 2023.”


First to be awarded the gold standard was HS2’s London tunnels contractor, SCS JV, who have introduced a number of measures including deploying the cleanest available plant and machinery on sites, rolling out innovative technologies that improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Three of SCS JV’s construction sites now operate entirely diesel-free, with their Canterbury Road site first announced as diesel free in May 2022.


SCS JV have also collaborated with plant hire suppliers with the aim of delivering lower emissions on sites. SCS’s environment team are working closely with Flannery Plant Hire, L Lynch, and M O’Brien on Eco-Driver refresher sessions so site staff are up to speed on how to reduce effectively reduce tailpipe emissions from plant.


After receiving the bronze standard in March 2022, the first construction joint venture to do so, EKFB JV – who are building the section of HS2 between Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire – have continued to improve sustainability, upgrading to gold status.


Some of these improvements include phasing out diesel tower lights and introducing more eco-friendly solutions such as solar and highbred lights, as well as changing generators to hybrid sets across sites. EKFB have also adopted new and innovative greener equipment on site as well as retrofitting existing plant equipment to reduce emissions.


Robert Lockwood, Air Quality Lead, Skanska Costain STRABAG JV, said:


“The achievement of the Plant Charter Gold award is testament to the collaborative work across the whole of SCS JV, including our dedicated supply chain, to minimise the impact of our activities on local air quality. I’m confident it won’t stop there either and the teams will keep innovating and striving to reduce emissions even further for the remainder of the project.”


Craig Downs, Plant Manager for EKFB JV said:


“EKFB and its supply chain worked hard to achieve the industry-first bronze status earlier this year and we are now thrilled to have reached gold status in less than half the time we’d originally predicted. To go from bronze to gold in 8 months shows how committed we are to reducing our environmental impact on our local communities and within our construction sites.


“This is a testament to our supply chain and EKFB and Hydrock teams working together to achieve the first gold status outside of London which supports the progress we are making in our environment & sustainability strategy objectives.”


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