air pollution

Spotlight on… air pollution raises awareness of the impact of air pollution and provides the industry with advice on tackling the issue...

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The campaign

Spotlight on… air pollution raises awareness of the impact of air pollution and provides the industry with advice on tackling the issue.

Air pollution is a key concern for the construction industry due to the sector’s considerable impact on air quality.

  • Less than a quarter of all air pollution-related deaths are in London, so it is clear that air pollution is everyone’s problem.
  • Construction sites are responsible for 7.5% of nitrogen oxide emissions, 8% of large particle emissions and 14.5% of emissions of the most dangerous fine particles.
  • The construction sector mostly contributes to air pollution through construction dust, plant machinery and construction transport.
  • The industry is taking steps to reduce air pollution through air quality plans, emissions monitoring, dust management, low-emission plant machinery, delivery management and raising workforce awareness.

What is air pollution?

Air pollution is a public health crisis. Breathing in polluted air can lead to serious health problems, including respiratory illness, asthma, bronchitis and even cancer. These conditions and other illnesses linked to air pollution are responsible for 40,000 deaths a year in the UK.

In addition to the health effects of air pollution, the cost to the economy as a result of health problems linked to air pollution is estimated to be more than £20 billion every year.

Air pollution is also an environmental concern, damaging plants and animals and contributing to negative climate change. Many sources of air pollution are also heavy emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and causing global warming.

The two main forms of air pollutants are nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which occurs from engine emissions (particularly diesel), and particulate matter, which comprises small airborne solid and liquid particles and occur from dust, soot, smoke etc. Particulate matter can be divided into coarse particles with a diameter of 10 μm or less (PM10) and fine particles with a diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5).

Nitrogen dioxide exposure can contribute to respiratory conditions and diseases. Construction workers are particularly vulnerable due to their proximity to polluting vehicles. In 2005, the Health and Safety Executive found that 230 construction workers died from exposure to diesel fumes (this figure has not since been updated.)

Particulate matter greater than PM10 gives rise to soiling and can affect the lungs and the heart. Particles less than PM10 can cause more serious problems as they can get deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream. Construction dust and exhaust emissions are key contributors to high PM levels.

 

How polluted is our air?

Air quality is high on the global agenda, with the Breathe Life campaign reporting that 80% of cities worldwide exceed the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines for safe air. In the UK, these efforts have primarily focused around London, which measures 50% over the safe annual level of PM2.5.

The European Union sets legally-binding limits for concentrations of outdoor air pollutants, and these directives were incorporated into UK law by the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010. In 2017, London breached the annual air pollution limit in the first five days of the year.

However air pollution is by no means solely a London issue, with Glasgow’s, Manchester’s and Birmingham’s air recorded at 60%, 50% and 40% respectively over the WHO’s recommendations for safe air. The UK as a whole is an average of 20% over the safe level of PM2.5. Outside the UK, Dublin’s air is 10% over the safe level.

Meanwhile, 59% of the UK population live in areas where nitrogen dioxide pollution is above the legal limit set by the EU.

As national and international bodies around the world focus on this issue, it is essential that the construction industry keeps up with changing regulations and practices.

 

What is the Scheme doing?

The Considerate Constructors Scheme visits around 18,000 construction sites and offices a year, and on every visit the site, company or supplier is asked how they Protect the Environment. The site visit Checklist used by Scheme Monitors requires the site to answer ‘Are all reasonable efforts being made to minimise the impact of vibration and of air, light and noise pollution?’ and ‘How is vibration, and air, light and noise pollution measured and managed to minimise impact?’ 

To support this campaign, the Scheme issued an anonymous survey to all registered sites, companies and suppliers. Over 600 industry professionals responded, providing an insight into industry views and approaches to air pollution:

  • 91% said air pollution is a nationwide issue.
  • 88% said the importance of minimising air pollution is being communicated to the workforce on their site.
  • 84% said there is an issue with air pollution in the construction industry.
  • 64% said the industry is not doing enough to tackle air pollution.
  • 62% said their site has appropriate measures in place to address air pollution.
  • 58% said health, economic and climate change impacts are of equal weighting, while 31% said health impacts are the main problem.
  • 56% said they have a good or detailed understanding of air pollution.
  • 39% said they have an average understanding of the regulations surrounding air pollution.

Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy said:

A staggering 40,000 deaths a year are linked to air pollution in the UK, and many people are suffering long-term health problems caused by poor air quality. As construction is a significant contributor to air pollution, it is essential for the industry to put measures in place to clean up our air by working together to reduce our impact on air quality.

“The Scheme’s ‘Spotlight on…air pollution’ campaign provides everyone within the industry access to a practical suite of resources including best practice, guidance and case studies from Scheme-registered construction sites, companies and suppliers on how to tackle this issue, as well as guidance from organisations including the Institute of Air Quality Management, Healthy Air Campaign and the Greater London Authority.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of collaborative efforts to tackle air pollution, having partnered with the Institution of Civil Engineers to produce Scheme posters for registered sites, companies and suppliers to raise the issue of air pollution to their workforce. The Institution of Civil Engineers has also recognised the value of the industry being committed to the Considerate Constructors Scheme, having highlighted Scheme registration within its London Air Quality Taskforce report published in 2017.

 

 

Law and legislation

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Law and legislation

Air quality management is a central part of UK environmental law; legislation sets out policies and regulations to minimise air pollution...

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External resources

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External resources

There are a number of organisations and resources available to help the construction industry and individuals understand and minimise their impact on air pollution...

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Examples of best practice

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Examples of best practice

The Scheme aims to improve the image of construction through sharing best practice with the industry. Below are a number of best practice examples that have been witnessed by the Scheme’s Monitors on their visits or submitted directly by registered sites, companies and suppliers…

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Case studies

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Case studies

The Scheme worked with contractors and organisations which are leading the way on tackling air pollution to produce case studies outlining their approaches to the issue…

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What can you do?

“One only needs to observe the pall hanging over construction sites of dust and dirt, or smell the diesel fumes from onsite plant and deliveries to see there is a problem.”

“People don’t perceive there is an issue because there is an ‘It’s always been this way’ mentality.”

“Contractors have to have a culture change.”

– Anonymous responses to the Scheme survey

Air pollution is a complex issue and one which must be considered carefully by all contractors. It is hoped that the information above helps clarify the issue and outlines just some of the ways all of us can contribute to cleaning our air.

Sites, companies and suppliers of all sizes can do something about air pollution. While some of the guidance below may apply to larger sites, there are ideas relevant to all contractors which could be adapted for their purposes.

Air quality plans

At the outset of a large project or one adjacent to sensitive receptors, it is important to incorporate air quality considerations into the management and logistics plans. These can include the following:

  • Where the risk of dust is deemed to have a negative impact on amenity, health and the natural environment – relative to site-specific factors such as proximity to sensitive receptors – an Air Quality Assessment may be required. This assessment should identify the level of risk to air quality during each stage of the project.
  • Air Quality and Dust Management Plans should outline the steps being taken to mitigate the adverse impact of construction activities on air quality.
  • In preparing Construction Logistics Plans, contractors should engage with their client/developers to demonstrate how they will deal with pollution issues during construction. This can include the controls and systems outlined in the above documents and traffic/delivery considerations. TfL has produced CLP guidance and templates.

Monitoring

It is difficult to assess a site’s impact on air quality if no monitoring is carried out, so sites could consider the following:

  • Baseline monitoring of air quality levels in the vicinity of the works before the project commences will act as a reference point to identify good and bad practice throughout the project.
  • Dust emissions should be monitored through specialised machinery, visual inspections, daily dust logs etc.
  • Continuous air quality and particulate monitoring will alert the contractor to any rapid increases in pollutant concentrations, so that mitigation measures can be put in place.

Dust management

Dust from construction projects can have a negative impact on local air quality and the health of the workforce and community. Initiatives to minimise dust pollution include:

  • An Air Quality Assessment identifying high, medium and low receptors prepared through the planning process by the developer (client).
  • Organising the site layout to screen sensitive receptors (such as schools, hospitals and ecological features) and locate generators and plant away from these receptors.
  • Conducting regular inspections of the site to ensure low dust levels.
  • Preventing site vehicles from ‘tracking out’ fine particles onto the public highway by washing the wheels of vehicles leaving site and using road sweepers.
  • Suppressing dust levels by damping down surfaces, using dust extraction systems etc.
  • Minimising cutting, grinding and sawing to reduce dust emissions.

Site management could introduce the following initiatives to minimise dust levels:

  • Continuing stakeholder engagement by the contractor.
  • Use of mobile crushing plant with the appropriate licence and nuisance controls.
  • Covering/seeding of stockpiles.
  • Procedures for dealing with spills and removal of contaminated soils/waste.
  • Restrictions on burning.
  • Good waste management procedures, covers for skips, minimising vehicle movements.
  • Vehicle management, including reducing idling, planning of works remote from boundaries, surfacing of haul routes and accesses/egresses, wheel washing, road sweepers, covering vehicles, use of dust suppression (water, chemicals), run-off management (reduces dust when mud dries out).
  • Use of chutes, conveyors and covered skips.

For more examples of dust management, see these Best Practice Hub entries.
Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM)

One of construction’s largest contributions to air pollution is emissions from NRMM, which is any mobile machine, vehicle or transportable equipment that does not carry passengers or goods on the road and is installed with a combustion engine e.g. dumpers, excavators, bulldozers and generators. There are various ways sites can reduce and manage pollution from plant:

  • In Greater London there are strict emissions standards for NRMM, which are detailed above. For projects outside London, meeting these low emission standards is best practice.
  • Registering plant on the NRMM register is a mandatory requirement in London. Elsewhere, sites may still choose to have an inventory of on-site plant.
  • Ensuring on-site plant is regularly serviced and keeping service logs will help contractors keep track of their NRMM.
  • Using individual plant stickers to record engine and registration details help facilitate emission compliance audits.
  • Sites should consider using alternative fuels to reduce the presence of diesel plant. Some contractors are trialling electric excavators and other electric vehicles.
  • If alternative fuels are not possible, plant can be retrofitted with exhaust filters or additives can be used to reduce emissions.
  • At the planning stage, contractors could review the need for NRMM and consider other options to reduce the presence of polluting plant e.g. offsite construction.

Delivery management

General construction traffic, including deliveries, is a significant factor in the sector’s impact on air pollution. There are various ways sites can reduce the number of vehicles on the road:

  • Sites should communicate with suppliers and delivery drivers and organise deliveries as efficiently as possible.
  • Lorry holding areas adjacent to or remote from site will allow vehicles to be brought to site when required and avoid peak times on the roads.
  • Delivery management systems allow all delivery vehicles to be pre-registered to ensure they comply with emissions standards and ensure deliveries are organised effectively. Organising deliveries eliminates queues of idling vehicles outside the site.
  • Larger sites could consider consolidation centres – strategically located storage and distribution facilities where materials can be stored as a starting point for just-in-time deliveries. This is more efficient as it eliminates the presence of multiple uncoordinated deliveries of partially full loads.

Workforce awareness

Air quality policies can only be fully implemented with the cooperation of the workforce. Sites should raise awareness of the issue of air pollution among the workforce to make them consider their behaviours and personal impact on air pollution. Ways to raise awareness include:

  • Air quality requirements should be included in site induction.
  • Toolbox talks can reinforce no idling policies. All too often, plant operatives and drivers leave their engines running while they take a break, which unnecessarily contributes to air pollution.
  • Leaflets and posters on site can drive home the health hazards of air pollution.
  • Car sharing schemes and cycle to work initiatives can help the workforce minimise their personal impact on air pollution.
  • Encourage the workforce to use public transport. Public transport can provide a sustainable viable alternative to car travel.

This campaign has largely focused on what contractors can do about air pollution. However, the whole industry can contribute to efforts to reduce emissions. This requires the engagement of the entire supply chain, including manufacturers and suppliers, in addition to the support of clients.

One Scheme survey respondent wrote: “It is not just about regulation – we should be driving positive change.” Taking proactive measures to reduce air pollution and being at the forefront of this issue will help improve the image of the entire construction industry.

As well as the information above, it is also advised to use the resources provided in the ‘External resources’ section of this campaign which identifies information from other organisations and companies.

The Scheme will continue to update this page as new case studies and examples of how the industry is tackling this issue are identified. If you would like to share how your organisation addresses air pollution, please contact the Scheme by emailing enquiries@ccsbestpractice.org.uk.

Date published: 20 February 2018
Last updated: 17 April 2018

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Close examples of best practice

Examples of best practice

The Scheme aims to improve the image of construction through sharing best practice with the industry. Below are a number of best practice examples that have been witnessed by the Scheme’s Monitors on their visits or submitted directly by registered sites, companies and suppliers.

Using ‘AdBlue’ on plant machinery

Published 25 July 2018 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality Mobile machinery
CategoriesAir quality Mobile machinery

Construction is a key contributor to air pollution and contractors should seek ways to minimise emissions from their activities. See the examples below for how one site achieved this: The project team are piloting a scheme whereby only forklifts using AdBlue can be used on site. AdBlue reduces the harmful nitrogen oxide emissions of diesel engines, converting harmful mono-nitrogen oxide…

‘Spotlight on… air pollution’ follow-up article

Published 3 July 2018 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality Campaigns
CategoriesAir quality Campaigns

In February 2018, the Scheme launched ‘Spotlight on… air pollution’ to raise awareness of the impact of air pollution and provide the industry with advice on tackling the issue. ‘Spotlight on… air pollution’ provides a central resource for everyone in the industry to improve their knowledge of air pollution, including statistics, examples of best practice, useful resources and practical guidance….

Air Quality Monitoring

Published 19 June 2018 | No comments
Written by Jack Simpson
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

Volatile organic compounds are common chemical contaminants found in offices and workplaces and are one reason for odours. A number of these compounds can be a health hazard for workers. Reducing exposure to these chemicals can lead to better health for workers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention VOCs found in the workplaces can include: Paints, varnishes…

Clean Air Kits to measure NO2 levels on site and tackle air pollution

Published 11 June 2018 | No comments
Written by Heather Cornwell
Categories Air quality Goodwill work Improvement
CategoriesAir quality Goodwill work Improvement

Our site, Wyndham Park in Grantham, is a locally renowned green area for local residents. Due to the earth works we were introducing plant and machinery to the area, so as a considerate constructor we wanted to monitor and reduce the impact these machines would have on the ecosystem. To help site combat air pollution, Robert Woodhead Ltd ordered a…

Managing indoor air quality

Published 11 June 2018 | No comments
Written by Suzanne Webster
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

External air quality caused by dust nuisance is actively managed whereas indoor air quality management can be overlooked. At our Greenwich site we have a committed approach to limiting dust and VOC exposure to our operatives and have undertaken the following steps; Air quality specialist reviewed working practices on site focusing on Drylining, Joinery and Drilling operations where a series…

Considerate Constructors Scheme ‘Construction Dust and Air Quality’ Guidance Note

Published 8 June 2018 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality Campaigns
CategoriesAir quality Campaigns

As part of the scoring process, the Considerate Constructors Scheme issues guidance notes to our Monitors on key issues to advise them on best practices to look out for when visiting sites, companies and suppliers. Following the launch of ‘Spotlight on… air pollution’, the Scheme redoubled its efforts to encourage registered sites, companies and suppliers to minimise air pollution from…

Using exhaust filters to reduce air pollution

Published 4 June 2018 | No comments
Written by Andrew Shepherd
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

We wanted to introduce a clean air initiative on a student accommodation project due to the amount of plant that would be operating on site as we are situated in a fairly busy residential area. We contacted a supplier who manufactures heavy duty exhaust filters that can be fitted externally to items of plant, this filter kit removes 95% of…

Electronic Screed Pump

Published 4 June 2018 | No comments
Written by Kevin Shannon
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

As part of the site’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and disruption to its neighbours following the hand over of phases that bordered current working areas, the site team began to investigate what could be done to reduce the site’s impact on the environment. An area identified was the use of plant on site. Alternatives for the traditional plant…

Photocatalytic hoarding – breaking down pollution

Published 24 May 2018 | No comments
Written by Richard Charlesworth
Categories Air quality Enclosures
CategoriesAir quality Enclosures

The Battersea Power Station Phase 3a project has demonstrated its commitment to innovation, sustainability and its workforce by installing a pollution-absorbing hoarding on-site. The project team worked with the manufacturer prior to product launch to install the substrate onto site hoarding and also set up monitors to understand what the real life impact is on a live construction project. Through…

Exhaust fluids to lower diesel emissions – AdBlue

Published 23 April 2018 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality Mobile machinery
CategoriesAir quality Mobile machinery

Emissions regulations set by the EU and incorporated into UK law now require vehicle manufacturers to meet stringent emissions standards. In order to meet these standards, diesel vehicles often employ selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology that involves injecting precise amounts of a liquid into the vehicle exhaust. AdBlue is one of the most common of these systems. When the AdBlue solution…

Air pollution application

Published 27 March 2018 | No comments
Written by Ruby Lee
Categories Air quality Campaigns
CategoriesAir quality Campaigns

Here at Kidbrooke village we promote striving for good air quality for our community and operatives. We have posters around the site asking operatives to download the air quality app for London. This is to try and educate operatives on the importance of air quality and to remind them of the importance of minimising air pollution.

Air pollution monitoring awareness poster

Published 26 March 2018 | No comments
Written by Oliver Richards
Categories Air quality Campaigns
CategoriesAir quality Campaigns

As part of the Considerate Constructors Scheme’s current focus on environmental monitoring, in particular air pollution, Willmott Dixon at the Route 39 site have employed an air pollution monitoring poster to support the Scheme’s current focus and documentation. These signs are fixed across all site noticeboards in the site office, canteen and around the site to raise maximum awareness of…

Diesel Generator – Air Quality Impacts

Published 19 March 2018 | No comments
Written by Matt Brinklow
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

Prior to the availability of mains power the site offices and welfare units had to be powered by a diesel generator. This generator was located adjacent to the offices/welfare and in conjunction with Kings College London air quality monitoring (particulates and black carbon) was undertaken. The monitoring station was located on the stairwell next to the canteen door (which was…

Efficient Management of Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM)

Published 19 March 2018 | No comments
Written by Michael Barratt MBE
Categories Air quality Mobile machinery
CategoriesAir quality Mobile machinery

Current estimates of NRMM emissions on construction sites indicate that they are responsible for 7% of NOx emissions, 14% for PM2.5 and 8% of PM10 emissions across the Capital. In 2014, the GLA released the Supplementary Planning Guidance document ‘The Control of Dust and Emissions from Construction and Demolition’. This document outlines the NRMM standards for new engine emissions in…

Emission reduction schemes

Published 5 February 2018 | No comments
Written by Henry Reynolds
Categories Air quality Minimised fuel use Reduce Travel plans
CategoriesAir quality Minimised fuel use Reduce Travel plans

Morgan Sindall’s commercial fleet driver performance is managed through a tracker system. The best drivers each month are identified and the best driver each quarter receives a £150 cash prize. We also recently produced an online ‘Driver Safety for Car Drivers’ e-Learning module, making completion mandatory for all Morgan Sindall staff. The module highlights efficient driving techniques, including a top…

Company car selection incentives to reduce carbon emissions

Published 5 February 2018 | No comments
Written by Henry Reynolds
Categories Air quality Minimised fuel use Reduce Travel plans Workforce
CategoriesAir quality Minimised fuel use Reduce Travel plans Workforce

At Morgan Sindall we are committed to improving the environment in which we work and live in. Reducing our carbon emissions and improving air quality is one way of doing this. Incentives are produced as part of the company car selection process, based on base model CO2 figures and deviation from the same. As stated in the company car policy:…

NRMM tagging system

Published 22 January 2018 | No comments
Written by Darren Peck
Categories Driver information Initiatives Inspections Mobile machinery Working methods
CategoriesDriver information Initiatives Inspections Mobile machinery Working methods

Mace at the Tottenham Stadium project have devised and implemented an NRMM (Non Road Mobile Machinery) tagging system in order to comply with the planning conditions imposed upon them by the GLA relating to air quality. All plant (NRMM) that meets a certain criteria is required to meet EU Emission Stage IIIA or above. In order to ensure that this…

Internal air quality plan

Published 9 January 2018 | No comments
Written by Darren Peck
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

Mace have taken a proactive approach to indoor air quality by producing an Air Quality Plan (AQP). This focuses on internal dust and its mitigation but also extends to other sources including: Particulates including vehicle emissions, pollen, dust; Volatile organic compounds (VOCs); Formaldehyde e.g. paints; Combustion emissions & Gaseous oxides such as CO, CO₂, NOx, SO₂ and O3; Airborne inorganic…

Clean Air Day

Published 9 January 2018 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality Awareness Campaigns Idling vehicles Workforce
CategoriesAir quality Awareness Campaigns Idling vehicles Workforce

Clean Air Day encourages us all to think about air pollution and how we can improve air quality. The campaign asks people to reduce the amount of air pollution they create, talk to others about how to improve air quality, and avoid harmful air pollution. To participate in Clean Air Day you could consider the following: Host an awareness-raising event…

Electric melter plant for waterproofing

Published 5 January 2018 | No comments
Written by Darren Peck
Categories Air quality Reduce
CategoriesAir quality Reduce

An electric melter was used to heat hot melt (Bituminous materials) on site for waterproofing install. This is opposed to the conventional system of using a propane fuel source to heat roofing felt and waterproofing elements of the roof. This was requested by Mace at the Highpoint site due to this being viewed as a better way of undertaking works due…

NRMM emissions testing

Published 2 January 2018 | No comments
Written by Darren Peck
Categories Air quality Mobile machinery
CategoriesAir quality Mobile machinery

Mace have continued their work with Kings College London (KCL), attempting to tackle emissions and air quality issues within the UK. Having previously worked with KCL at the Television Centre site, Mace have progressed their work at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Development. Mace arranged for KCL to attend site and test Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) emissions to see whether…

NRMM quality assurance template

Published 2 January 2018 | No comments
Written by Darren Peck
Categories Air quality Mobile machinery
CategoriesAir quality Mobile machinery

The team at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Development (Mace) have devised an Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) Quality Assurance (QA) document to ensure compliance is achieved. The project has planning conditions that stipulate all plant on site should adhere to a certain standard with relation to the EU Emission Stage for plant engines. To ensure the site was compliant with…

Electric concrete pump

Published 29 November 2017 | No comments
Written by Richard Charlesworth
Categories Air quality Noise Occupational health risks
CategoriesAir quality Noise Occupational health risks

The Royal Albert Hall project is utilising an electric concrete pump on site to help minimise environmental impacts. The pump uses a rotating screw to pump the concrete down the lines as opposed to a traditional piston pump which can be noisy. The pump not only reduces carbon emissions compared with traditional alternatives, it also improves the air quality of…

Air Pollution – National Clean Air Day

Published 29 November 2017 | No comments
Written by Lisa Zdravkovic
Categories Air quality Awareness Campaigns Environmental policy promoted
CategoriesAir quality Awareness Campaigns Environmental policy promoted

In June, Balfour Beatty participated in the UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day. National Clean Air Day provides an opportunity for the country to come together and improve air quality through collective action. Birmingham City Council prompted all local businesses to participate, which led to Balfour Beatty staff working on the Sutton New Hall Cemetery Extension arranging a one…

Maximising excavated waste removal via barge

Published 21 November 2017 | No comments
Written by Matt Brinklow
Categories Re-use Reduce Travel plans
CategoriesRe-use Reduce Travel plans

The Northern Line Extension project involves the construction of two brand new underground stations (Nine Elms and Battersea), two ventilation shafts (Kennington) and two 3km long tunnels that extend the existing Northern Line out to Battersea. Constructing this generates a huge amount of excavated material, which FLO were challenged to find a beneficial reuse for. It was clear early on…

Living wall on a building redevelopment

Published 7 November 2017 | No comments
Written by Darren Pope
Categories Air quality First Impressions campaign Initial impressions Planting
CategoriesAir quality First Impressions campaign Initial impressions Planting

To improve and enhance the standard and sustainability of our immediate environment on the LSE CBR project, a living wall was installed to the external face of the welfare cabins facing the LSE library and seating area of the John Watkins Plaza. This was installed by fixing timber battens into the cabins and then hanging the planter boxes with plants…

Muck away lorry tracker app

Published 7 November 2017 | No comments
Written by Ushna Mughal
Categories Air quality Idling vehicles Minimised fuel use Timings
CategoriesAir quality Idling vehicles Minimised fuel use Timings

Mace is working with Getjar and Walsh to implement the Fleetmatics Reveal app to monitor, call in and locate the muck away lorries carrying materials to and from the project. The app monitors whether a lorry is moving, paused or stopped on break through a traffic light colour coding system. By using the app, Mace can ensure that we are…

Loading design guidance

Published 26 September 2017 | No comments
Written by Michael Barratt MBE
Categories Access/egress Cycle safety Driver information Idling vehicles Roads Timings Traffic management Traffic management arrangements Unloading
CategoriesAccess/egress Cycle safety Driver information Idling vehicles Roads Timings Traffic management Traffic management arrangements Unloading

In 2014-15, HGVs were involved in 25% of pedestrian fatalities and 60% of cyclist fatalities. The long term impacts from Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM10), of which a large proportion comes from HGVs, are the cause for over 9,000 deaths each year in London. Negative impacts can often occur when loading facilities are either poorly designed or can…

Strategic HGV holding areas

Published 18 September 2017 | No comments
Written by Michael Barratt MBE
Categories Access/egress Driver information Roads Traffic management Traffic management arrangements
CategoriesAccess/egress Driver information Roads Traffic management Traffic management arrangements

HGVs are a major contributor of pollution displaced on all road networks. The long term impacts, especially from Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter are the cause for over 60,000 deaths each year in the UK. In London, during 2014/15 HGVs were involved in 25% & 60% of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities respectively, therefore HGVs are also a key focus for…

Portable emissions monitoring

Published 29 August 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality Mobile machinery Occupational health risks
CategoriesAir quality Mobile machinery Occupational health risks

Air pollution is a huge concern for major cities in the UK, particularly London. Non-road mobile machinery is responsible for approximately 10% of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions in London, so construction sites should be particularly conscious of their impact on the environment. See the examples below for how one site addressed this: The site was aware that there…

Clean construction code

Published 29 August 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Occupational health risks
CategoriesOccupational health risks

The health and wellbeing of the workforce should be a main priority for construction sites. Occupational health risks are particularly important in this industry, and sites must demonstrate a clear commitment to creating a safe work environment. See the examples below for how one site tackled this issue: Developed a Clean Construction Code, in conjunction with the WELL Standard, which…

Early doors agreement

Published 29 August 2017 | One comment
Written by Michael Barratt MBE
Categories Idling vehicles Minimised fuel use Timings
CategoriesIdling vehicles Minimised fuel use Timings

Asking HGV drivers to arrive at site exactly at 8am to begin loading/unloading is challenging especially on heavily congested roads. Not only does this cause driver stress but can result in unwanted behaviours. Often drivers’ set off and arrive early to avoid peak traffic. HGVs are frequently observed being parked outside site gates, on residential or main roads, on footways…

Hybrid concrete truck emission reductions

Published 17 August 2017 | No comments
Written by CWCL Sustainability Team
Categories Air quality Post-completion impact
CategoriesAir quality Post-completion impact

It is important to recognise that a site’s environmental impact goes well beyond the site boundary. A significant environmental impact of construction is in the production of the materials used, but it is also important to consider the impact of their transportation at both a local and wider level. Although concrete batching plants are often in reasonably close proximity to…

Environmental briefing cards for drivers

Published 15 August 2017 | No comments
Written by Stuart Laycock
Categories Idling vehicles Training Workforce
CategoriesIdling vehicles Training Workforce

At Battersea PowerStation Phase 2 the site Environmental Team have developed a series of ‘flash’ cards which are given to vehicle drivers by the Site Traffic Marshals as they wait to access the site. These cards provide some information and facts about the environmental impact their vehicles have when idling. This has been a great way to provide information and…

Construction logistics plan

Published 26 June 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories CLOCS Traffic management Traffic management arrangements
CategoriesCLOCS Traffic management Traffic management arrangements

A Construction Logistics Plan (CLP) is an important tool for planners, developers and those working in the construction industry. Having  a CLP will help to reduce the impact construction traffic has on local communities in relation to congestion, pollution and noise. A good plan will not only benefit the environment but also reduce costs as this promotes efficient working practices…

Clean Air Campaign

Published 1 June 2017 | No comments
Written by CWCL Sustainability Team
Categories Air quality Campaigns Idling vehicles Workforce
CategoriesAir quality Campaigns Idling vehicles Workforce

Canary Wharf Contractors’ New District project in Canary Wharf have promoted the Clean Air Campaign in London, which encourages drivers to turn off their engines when not in use. The campaign is aimed at improving London’s air quality. Canary Wharf Contractors partnered with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to set up a stand in the lorry holding area on site…

Air quality in the city

Published 1 June 2017 | No comments
Written by Ian Allard
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

At St Mary Axe we wanted to trial clean construction best practice, which initially involved having a baseline of the outdoor and indoor air quality on site and understanding who in the workforce was at the highest risk of air quality related issues. To do this we used the local London network air monitor (300m from site) as a proxy…

Smart indoor air quality monitoring

Published 19 May 2017 | No comments
Written by Andrew Kinsey
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

Mace are trialling Foobot Air Quality Monitors. Currently we have one installed at our head office in Moorgate and on several temporary offices in some of our London construction projects. Foobot monitors air quality parameters including CO2, VOCs and particulate matter, showing a glowing light to give a visual indication of overall air quality. Data can be viewed in an…

Using low emission Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM)

Published 9 December 2016 | No comments
Written by Kenneth Hills
Categories Energy saving measures Minimised fuel use Mobile machinery Reduce
CategoriesEnergy saving measures Minimised fuel use Mobile machinery Reduce

Description and Overview CSJV are achieving best practice by using low emission rating machines on site. The site had over 30 Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) at the latter end of 2013 due to an extensive programme of works which included the reinstatement of Eastbourne Terrace, excavation of the box and utilities works. Because of this programme, new plant were…

Encouraging hybrid travel

Published 16 November 2016 | No comments
Written by Julie Brooks
Categories Energy saving measures Minimised fuel use Travel plans Workforce
CategoriesEnergy saving measures Minimised fuel use Travel plans Workforce

To support green and hybrid travel we have now had a second electric charging point added at our head office. Our first charging point was added in 2015 and this was followed by a member of staff getting a plug-in hybrid car that they charge at work during the day so that all of their daily commute is totally powered…

Plant/machinery database

Published 4 November 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories

Using modern and innovative equipment can improve sustainable procurement. It is therefore important to be aware what alternative working methods of equipment could be most effectively used for the job. This doesn’t just mean productivity, but also other benefits such as environmental impact, health and safety, and cost saving. The example below shows how one site achieved this: The contractor…

Air quality monitoring survey

Published 28 October 2016 | No comments
Written by Lucy Hingley
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

An air monitoring survey was undertaken in June 2016 to assess personal exposures to Diesel Engine Exhaust Emission (DEEE) for operatives carrying out work on the M60. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans if exposed to high fume levels. The data has shown that the overall exposure to the…

Zero CO2 emissions and reduced air quality impacts by using Electric Vehicles

Published 28 October 2016 | No comments
Written by Andrew Kinsey
Categories Air quality Minimised fuel use Reduce Travel plans Van signage/information
CategoriesAir quality Minimised fuel use Reduce Travel plans Van signage/information

Mace have invested in Nissan e-NV200 electric vans to escort staff around some of our larger projects and between sites. Benefits include zero CO2 emissions and reduced noise levels mean less nuisance from traffic noise. Because they are entirely battery powered they emit no particulate matter when driving, reducing the impact on local air quality which is an increasing concern…

Improving air quality with an air scrubber

Published 22 July 2016 | No comments
Written by James Low
Categories Air quality Occupational health risks
CategoriesAir quality Occupational health risks

As part of the dust management strategy by the Como team undertaking a Cat B fit-out of a central London commercial office space, an air scrubber was used to remove dust and unwelcome particulate matter on site. The air scrubber is positioned in the middle of an enclosed area without any ducting attached. The air is then drawn through its…

Hydrogen fuel cell powered CCTV towers

Published 30 June 2016 | No comments
Written by James Low
Categories Energy saving measures Minimised fuel use Reduce Rivers/watercourses
CategoriesEnergy saving measures Minimised fuel use Reduce Rivers/watercourses

Mace have installed hydrogen fuel cell powered CCTV Smart Towers on one of our sites. The Smart Towers have allowed us to eliminate impact on air pollution, carbon and noise compared to the traditional diesel powered plant. The omission of diesel means that we’re also able to relocate and move the CCTV across the site without impacting on the protection…

Air purification unit

Published 30 June 2016 | No comments
Written by James Low
Categories Air quality Enclosures
CategoriesAir quality Enclosures

Air Purification Units (APUs) are re-locatable units based on the concept of a living wall to reduce air pollution. Partnering with Treebox, these have been integrated into the external hoarding of a Mace project site located on a road with some of London’s highest pollution levels. The system capitalises on natural air purification benefits of plants and microbes enhanced with…

Clean Drive

Published 7 April 2016 | No comments
Written by Stephen Redmond
Categories Carbon footprint reporting Minimised fuel use Vehicle enhancements
CategoriesCarbon footprint reporting Minimised fuel use Vehicle enhancements

At Redmond Group Ltd, we have introduced ‘Clean Drive’ a fuel additive that reduces harmful emissions after being inspired by an entry on ‘Construct CO2‘ we saw on the Best Practice Hub. Clean Drive is used on all personal vehicles and company vans to reduce our carbon footprint and therefore increase our environmental performance. The benefits of using this on our…

Car charging point

Published 15 December 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality Minimised fuel use Sustainable source
CategoriesAir quality Minimised fuel use Sustainable source

It is essential that every site gives careful consideration to its potential impact on the natural environment. Environmentally friendly alternatives should be sought. Below is an example of how a site encouraged electric car use, to reduce fuel emissions: The parking area allocated for contractors vehicles was equipped with a electrical/hybrid car charging point specifically for site vehicles; This was…

Improving environmental performance on site: Trialling hybrid excavators

Published 28 October 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

Ways to improve your sites environmental performance should be sought. Sites should carefully consider their working methods and the impact of machinery upon the environment. Below is an example of how a site trialled hybrid excavators to improve efficiency and air quality: Hybrid excavators were sourced from outside the UK with improved fuel, CO2 efficiency and improved air quality in the…

Air Cube

Published 4 June 2015 | No comments
Written by Simon Taylor
Categories Air quality Occupational health risks
CategoriesAir quality Occupational health risks

A very common cause of complaint, throughout any project, is the impact caused by dust. A well-managed site will implement systems to address this problem; which shows respect to the community and helps to minimise the impact that dust and dirt may have on the workforce. The site recently procured a number of air cubes as it was noted that dust from the…

Monitoring driving patterns to minimise carbon emissions

Published 24 March 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Carbon footprint reporting Idling vehicles Minimised fuel use Plan Reduce Travel plans
CategoriesCarbon footprint reporting Idling vehicles Minimised fuel use Plan Reduce Travel plans

Sites should monitor their carbon footprint and set targets for reporting and minimising carbon emissions. Drivers should receive sufficient training and efforts should be made to monitor and minimise site delivery and vehicle impact on the environment. Below is an example of how sites can effectively monitor and reduce their fuel emissions: Vehicles and transport for operatives were provided on site,…

Cost effective noise and air quality monitoring kits

Published 5 January 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Air quality
CategoriesAir quality

Environmental impact risks can be reduced through effective monitoring. It is important to monitor both the noise and air quality produced from your site to identify and react to any risks posed. Such precautions enable sites to better safeguard their workforce and the surrounding environment. A number of sites have effectively monitored their noise and air quality through Casella, who offer…

Close case studies

Case studies

The Scheme worked with contractors and organisations which are leading the way on tackling air pollution to produce case studies outlining their approaches to the issue…

Contractors

Canary Wharf Contractors outlines how it considers air quality throughout the building lifecycle. These measures include rules on engine idling, NRMM compliance, delivery logistics, dust management, transport emissions and monitoring stations. Read the case study here.
Costain explains the air quality measures in place on their A465 scheme in Wales and demonstrates its commitment to tackling air pollution through a new requirement for NRMM on every Costain project across the country to comply with London’s standards. Read the case study here.

Interserve’s Fleming Park Leisure Centre project won the Interserve national sustainability award. Air pollution mitigation measures on the project included dust suppression, co-ordination of construction traffic and use of diesel exhaust filters. Read the case study here.

Mace discusses its air quality improvement initiatives and its work with Kings College London to accurately monitor construction site emissions to help better understand how the industry can reduce its contribution to air pollution. Read the case study here.
Sir Robert McAlpine details how its Broadgate projects address air pollution through air quality monitoring and NRMM compliance. Read the case study here.

Organisations

Institution of Civil Engineers provides a summary of the findings in their 2017 ‘Engineering Cleaner Air’ report, suggesting how contractors and politicians can help improve air quality. Read the case study here.

Transport for London discusses how they are working with Croydon Council to incorporate air pollution mitigation into the planning, logistics and delivery of redevelopment projects in Croydon. Read the case study here.

Close law and legislation

Law and legislation

Air quality management is a central part of UK environmental law; legislation sets out policies and regulations to minimise air pollution.

Clean Air Act 1993

The 1993 Act consolidated previous legislation to control domestic and industrial smoke, including dark smoke furnaces, smoke control areas and regulations about motor fuels.

Over two decades since the introduction of the Clean Air Act 1993, there is a campaign calling for a new Clean Air Act to tackle air pollution and its newly understood long-term health effects. The campaign for new legislation includes organisations such as Greenpeace and the British Lung Foundation and has the backing of 65% of the British public, according to a 2017 survey.

Environment Act 1995

Under this Act, the UK Government and devolved administrations are required to produce a national air quality strategy.

This Act requires local authorities to review air quality in their area, and, in places where air quality limits are exceeded, they must designate Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) where they will work towards certain air quality objectives. View a map of AQMAs across the UK.

The Environment Agency, the body which regulates the release of pollutants into the atmosphere in England, was established under this Act.

Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002

These regulations state that it is an offence to idle your engine unnecessarily when stationary. If you fail to turn your engine off after being spoken to by an authorised local authority officer, you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £20 (up to £40 if not paid within a specified time period.)

Where an AQMA has been declared, local authorities in England and Wales can apply for powers to carry out roadside emissions testing, with a possible fine of £60 if an emissions offence has been committed.

Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010

These regulations set air quality standards for the UK and implement EU directives 2008/50/EC and 2004/107/EC on ambient air quality. These directives set legally-binding limits for concentration of major air pollutants such as PM10, PM2.5 and NO2. The Republic of Ireland also incorporated these EU directives into national law with the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2011.

Close External resources

External resources

There are a number of organisations and resources available to help the construction industry and individuals understand and minimise their impact on air pollution.

  • The Considerate Constructors Scheme works closely with the Institution of Civil Engineers and their London Air Quality Taskforce. The Scheme is specified in the Taskforce’s ‘Engineering Cleaner Air’ report from October 2017. To support this partnership, the Scheme produced ‘Spotlight on… air pollution’ posters in collaboration with ICE.

Organisations

What is the industry doing?

  • Construction Dust Partnership is an industry collaboration involving different organisations, including the Health and Safety Executive and the Considerate Constructors Scheme, to raise awareness within the industry about lung diseases related to hazardous workplace dust.
  • London Low Emission Construction Partnership (LLECP) is a collaboration between the Cleaner Air Boroughs in Central London and King’s College London. The project is funded by the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund and aims to reduce emissions from the construction industry by helping contractors understand and minimise their impact on air quality.
  • Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) register is an online tool established by the LLECP to help contractors in London understand and comply with the latest emission requirements for these vehicles.
  • Unite seek to minimise worker exposure to harmful diesel emissions through downloadable posters and leaflets highlighting the dangers of diesel and an online register of diesel exhaust emissions for workers to report dangerous exposure. See their campaign page here.

London Governance

Initiatives and standards to tackle air pollution in London may soon be replicated in other cities across the country.

These measures are already seeing positive effects, with a marked improvement in London’s air quality in early 2018 compared to the previous year. See more here.

Other UK cities are following suit, with Leeds proposing a Clean Air Zone and Sheffield introducing a Clean Air Strategy. For more information about cities’ approaches to tackling air pollution, read the Centre for Cities 2018 briefing paper on the subject.

Visit your local council’s environmental health department for information on air pollution management in your area.
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