The Road to Net Zero: a commitment to carbon reduction

PCE partner with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to enhance a proven, scalable and repeatable platform-approach to design and build, with optimized strategies saving up to 40% carbon with significant commercial and programme benefits.

The responsibility of being at the forefront of new-era construction is not just a case of designing and building impactful, ambitious and efficient structures safely, it is also about taking real ownership for driving critical change throughout the industry and beyond. Having worked with the MOJ over recent years, PCE have developed an efficient HybriDfMA Secure-Prison system, offering repeatable, scalable and sustainable platform solutions to designing and building custodial accommodation.

Continued efforts to further optimise this platform approach has seen successful collaboration between PCE and its partners, identifying opportunities to reduce embodied carbon whilst ensuring the solution remains commercially viable, scalable, and transferable to other projects and systems. The ‘real world’ application of this collaboration paves the way for a revolutionized approach to design and build, allowing the industry to adapt and thrive under the stewardship of sustainability.


Route to decarbonisation

In 2021, following the successful implementation of PCE's DfMA secure system solution to build HMP Five Wells in Wellingborough and HMP Fosse Way in Leicestershire, PCE partnered with Akerlof, Forterra, the MOJ, Curtins and other industry experts to launch the Innovate UK sponsored ‘Decarbonising Precast Concrete’ research report. Exploring opportunities for decarbonization, it was determined that to find a solution that was efficient, effective and practical, the entire design and build process needed to be looked at both collaboratively and holistically, from a decarbonization stance. As such, from cradle to grave, a collaborate – optimize – test – refine strategy was taken through a non-linear, circular collaborative process, helping better understand where carbon is generated, and where within the process it can be minimized, without sacrificing structural integrity and commercial viability.

Collaboration led to innovation, and through rigorous scrutinizing, designing and testing, using methods such as carbon-mapping, scenario planning and the ongoing development and use of carbon calculators and heat maps, the Decarbonisation of Precast Concrete report illustrated that a significant saving of up to 40% in embodied carbon, when benchmarked against recognized industry data and metrics, could realistically be achieved, without detriment to specification and cost. It highlighted the powers and possibilities of collaboration, and that by collectively working together to optimize the design and build process, significant, scalable and sustainable solutions can be developed and deployed industry-wide.


The solution is not speculative

Through applying the findings of the government-sponsored Decarbonisation of Precast Concrete study, PCE have established and implemented carbon-reduction solutions on HMP Millsike in York, currently in construction, achieving a 12% reduction in embodied carbon when compared with HMP Fosse Way, constructed in 2021. Working with multiple manufacturers across the supply chain, PCE collaboratively reviewed, innovated and tested mix designs, ensuring the revised mix design would continue to deliver structural integrity and other required performance properties, whilst simultaneously achieving a reduction in carbon content. The 12% reduction achieved translates to a saving of over 1,200 tonnes of CO2 with an actual average of 443kg e/m³ against the HMP Fosse Way project of 501kg CO2/m³. In other words, the new prison at Full Sutton has seen a reduction of over 753kg CO2 per prison place. When scaled up across the Government’s entire new prison programme, these savings alone would result in a saving of over 15,000 tonnes of CO2. By transferring this knowledge across the other PCE systems and other sectors, the impact can truly and fundamentally help revolutionise the construction industry.


A cleaner future

In light of the pioneering progress and profound potential of a system build, platform approach to design and build, Simon Harold, Business Development Director at PCE, shared his thoughts on a cleaner future for construction:

“The Decarbonising Precast Concrete study built on PCE’s already established system build solution, governed by efficiency, repeatability and practicality. Through leveraging Hybrid DfMA and an offsite ‘kit of parts’ philosophy, we do not just embrace modern methods of construction, but revolutionise it. This, coupled with our shared commitment  for continuous improvement with our partners, will help facilitate continued practical progress in a more environmentally friendly, structurally robust and commercially sound approach to design and build.”

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