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For Trafikverket EPD is a good tool to use in the construction of infrastructure

Trafikverket is responsible for the overall long-term infrastructure planning of road, rail, sea and air transport in Sweden. Since a few years they work with LCA calculations in new construction of roads and railways. The Swedish government has high ambitions to make Sweden climate neutral to 2045 at latest.

“Climate change is a very urgent matter that has real consequences already here and now, but that will be much worse if we do not reduce GHG emissions to zero in the middle of the century. In the instruction for our administration it is clear that we shall contribute to this goal.”

Trafikverket have therefore set up a vision to have a climate neutral infrastructure to 2045. The goals towards the vision is to reduce the emissions by 15 percent to 2020 and 30 percent to 2025.

“These goals are transformed into procurement criteria’s that our contractors have to fulfil. If they perform even better, there is possibility to get bonus. Our climate calculation tool “Klimatkalkyl” is used for calculating the initial baseline for a certain project and to verify that the contractors fulfil the reduction requirements regarding greenhouse gas emissions.”

For Trafikverket EPD is a good tool to use in the construction of infrastructure, there life cycle perspective is necessary when focusing on the transport infrastructure, as the emissions do not necessarily occur during the construction phase.

“In many cases the emissions from the production of material are significant. An important measure in order to decrease the emissions from transport infrastructure is therefore to use material with better environmental performance. EPDs are required in order to verify the emissions of greenhouse gases for the material used. By requiring EPDs based on EN 15804, we can ensure that all materials in all our projects are evaluated on the same basis.”

Trafikverkets work is based on life cycle perspective that can be implemented in several ways. Trafikverket think that extensive case studies can be used for developing knowledge on a more general basis, to govern policy decisions. But how have they proceeded?

“Life cycle calculations may be used in each single project to govern case specific decisions, such as the choice of construction design and material supplier. To make that feasible we found it important to provide background LCA data and a calculations tool that is easy to use for non-LCA experts that can ensure that the same system boundaries are used regardless of the project type.”  

“Therefore we developed the tool “Klimatkalkyl”. We also found it necessary to make some simplifications, especially in the early planning stages of a project, when still not that much information is available on the use of different materials. Therefore the tool Klimatkalkyl provide  resource templates for different type measures or construction components. In the early planning we accept a high level of uncertainty as we consider it as being better than having no estimates at all. As the project proceeds, the templates are substituted by case specific information and the preciseness of the results increases.”

Trafikverkets recommendation for those who wants to implement life cycle thinking, is to not underestimate the effort it takes to communicate and implement the new practice within the organization. Developing a model is just one part of the work and to implement it in the work processes and the steering documents is also important. Communication is a key to success.

In Sweden Trafikverket has got positive respons from the Swedis companies, since they started to set requirements.  

“We have examples where companies start working with LCA-calculations and EPDs to be able to declare and improve their climate performance. There is a growing knowledge about climate impact from the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. Increased knowledge and awareness is a good start for making the necessary improvements.”