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Environment UK

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Mon12062021

Last update09:14:57 AM GMT

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Monitoring data can underpin river quality improvements

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The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has requested written evidence from Meteor Communications, the specialist provider of remote water quality monitoring systems, as part of the committee’s ongoing inquiry into water quality in rivers. The submission was timely because it was made while sewage spills were the subject of intense media attention, and after the Environment Act 2021 placed a new responsibility on sewerage undertakers to progressively reduce the impact of discharges from storm overflows.

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Carbon calculator aids environmental decision making

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Balfour Beatty, in collaboration with Innovate UK, Leeds Beckett University, Hertfordshire University and White Frog Publishing, has created a carbon calculation tool for the construction and infrastructure industry – offering a consistent, practical solution for the measurement of embodied carbon.

Currently in its beta testing phase, the AutoBIM Carbon Calculator automatically links BIM data to embodied carbon data from the Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE) database, an online source which provides energy and embodied carbon information for construction materials.

In addition, the platform allows users to input information from environmental product declarations sheets – verified and registered documents that provide transparent and comparable data about the environmental impact throughout the lifecycle of a product or material.

The innovative platform will support teams during the design phase of a project to compare products and materials, provide alternative solutions and ultimately help those involved make informed, low-carbon decisions.

Having launched its new sustainability strategy Building New Futures last year, the AutoBIM Carbon Calculator marks another step forward in Balfour Beatty’s journey to going beyond net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Rachel Sudlow, Balfour Beatty’s strategic improvement project manager, said: “The construction and infrastructure industry has previously struggled to offer a consistent approach when it comes to the measurement of embodied carbon. That is why we have collaborated with leading industry experts to create the AutoBIM Carbon Calculator, which will make a real and positive difference to how our industry operates. The introduction of such a tool is long overdue and with the impact of our work on the environment front of mind, it is a truly welcomed development.”

The AutoBIM Carbon Calculator is currently being trialled across four of Balfour Beatty’s projects, including the Institute of Regeneration and Repair at the University of Edinburgh, to which the company was appointed in 2019 through the SCAPE Civil Engineering framework. During trials on live projects, the use of this tool has evidenced a potential saving of up to 14% of embodied carbon through more informed design choices.

Following a phased roll-out across Balfour Beatty’s projects over the next six months, the AutoBIM Carbon Calculator will be available to the wider industry within the next 12 months, with plans to expand its remit to measure the energy performance of products and materials post completion.

Lifetime opportunity at the Etihad

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As a supplier of remote water quality monitoring systems, Meteor Communications was recently invited to speak at a Xylem event in Manchester City’s Etihad stadium. With an ‘Opportunity of a lifetime’ theme, the event invited participants to utilise the power of technology and expertise to achieve water security and sustainability.

Meteor’s Matt Dibbs provided delegates with an insight into the latest technologies for high-resolution monitoring, citing several large-scale, ongoing programmes in which Meteor’s portable and kiosk based modular ESNET (environmental sensor network) systems are delivering continuous data streams for a wide variety of environmental parameters. In the majority of water quality monitoring applications, Meteor employs the Xylem EXO2 multiparameter sonde; either in a chamber through which sample water is pumped, or as part of a battery powered portable system.

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Students share tech solutions to reducing waste in Scotland

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The ‘Uber’ of the construction industry, an AI tool to analyse building materials, a peer-to-peer waste sharing app and a waste prevention web platform were among the innovative ideas presented by Edinburgh University students to help reduce waste from the construction industry - Scotland’s single largest waste producer.

The 24 students were responding to a brief set by leading infrastructure company Robertson, who has partnered with the university’s ‘Students as Change Agents’ programme for the second time after being impressed with the first iteration of students’ outputs.

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Innovative sensor network monitors ‘vog’ in Hawaii

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In May 2018, the Hawaiian volcano Kilauea erupted with devastating consequences - destroying homes, displacing hundreds of people and emitting high levels of dust and harmful gases. Aside from the human tragedy that this created, the eruption provided a unique opportunity to monitor the air quality of a volcano during the eruptive phase, and researchers have employed innovative low-cost sensors to do so, as part of a dense monitoring network.

The Hawaiian Department of Health operates several air quality monitoring stations on the island, but at the time of the eruption scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, had already begun building a denser network of monitoring sites in response to air quality concerns relating to volcanic smog or ‘vog’.

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