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“As well as policymakers, we aim to form a bridge between industry and the University. We want to show that university research is hugely valuable and should influence longterm strategic thinking about infrastructure needs. “On the policy side, politicians often have to make decisions with insufficient or inferior evidence-based data, and those decisions are poorer as a result. That is something we’d like to help to address.” Professor Masterton has already tapped into Edinburgh’s worldleading expertise in informatics and business studies and has strengthened relationships between informatics, business, engineering and infrastructure. There is activity in data mining for forensic engineering, including a studentship funded partly by Costain, which will focus on analysing construction industry safety data to help identify trends and anticipate emerging safetyrelated problems. Work is beginning to pool the efforts of all Scottish universities interested in infrastructure, sharing ideas and information, encouraging more joint working and building a critical mass of activity in infrastructure research. Another project is studying the most appropriate performance measures for successful infrastructure – how we can be sure we have the infrastructure we aspire to, taking into account affordability and international best practice. Professor Masterton believes politicians and decision-makers must take a longer, more measured

and better-informed view. After all, he argues, we live with our decisions about infrastructure for a long time. “Ultimately, I would like to see a strong community of cross-sectoral, multidisciplined researchers interested in infrastructure in all its dimensions.”

RIGHT: Dr Roberto Rossi is helping Costain to reduce carbon emissions on construction sites

Concrete progress on carbon reduction

The need for carbon reduction in every area of human activity is now generally accepted. A team from the University of Edinburgh Business School led by Dr Roberto Rossi, Reader in Management Science, has been working with industry leader Costain to apply that principle to the construction sector. The team includes two other Lecturers in Management Science, Dr Maurizio Tomasella and Dr Belen Martin-Barragan. Dr Rossi explained: “We originally made contact with the company around 18 months ago at an AIM Construction day – that’s the event where companies meet universities and each side sees if they can benefit from working with each other. Subsequently, we received support from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. By that point Costain had introduced another partner, Cenex – a nonprofit centre of excellence for low-carbon technology.” Beginning in September 2015, the project was built around three workshops covering, in turn, barriers to carbon reduction, solutions, and validation of those solutions. It focused on a selection of Costain sites, including the Shieldhall Tunnel in Glasgow (a 3.1 mile-long waste water tunnel being

BELOW: Edinburgh's research looked at reducing carbon emissions on Costain's work on London’s Crossrail

created in the south of the city) and a section of London’s Crossrail. The project touched on the availability, sharing and use of data, as well as areas such as asset refuelling and the prediction of future emissions. The research had several outcomes including a model of emissions for vans that use major construction sites and options for replacing all or some of those with electric vehicles. “We presented our final report at the Low Carbon Vehicle event at Millbrook in September 2016,” said Dr Rossi. “This major convention, organised by Cenex, brought together the leading players in low- carbon technologies. “I believe our biggest achievement has been bringing the supply chain together. It was a significant breakthrough to have all the partners sitting around the table.” As a result of their work, the Business School team has attracted new funding from car and truck manufacturer, Volvo. The team, which blends Dr Rossi’s expertise in management science with the carbon accounting skills of Dr Matthew Brander and colleagues from the Centre for Business and Climate Change, plans a followup project focusing on ‘embodied carbon’ – the carbon captured in materials that make up a building. Once again, Costain are involved. Dr Rossi concluded: “Costain are spearheading this push to reduce carbon emissions in construction. What has surprised and pleased me is their openness – the Costain team has a very collaborative attitude and are happy to provide what we need to push forward with important industry research.”

To find out about how the University’s multidisciplinary research expertise can help your construction-related business, contact Edinburgh Research & Innovation: bit.ly/ContactERI Infinite | 7


Profile for Edinburgh Research & Innovation

Infinite magazine 2016  

Edinburgh Research & Innovation’s Infinite Magazine highlights some of the exciting industry engagement, innovation and enterprise activitie...

Infinite magazine 2016  

Edinburgh Research & Innovation’s Infinite Magazine highlights some of the exciting industry engagement, innovation and enterprise activitie...