Environment Learning Legacy

Controlling the environmental impacts during construction

Reducing the environmental impacts of Crossrail’s construction was the principal purpose of the Environmental Minimum Requirements.  Developed with the input of local authorities and statutory agencies, by the time the EMR were signed off they were recognised as environmental best practice.  The minimum environmental requirement for the construction of Crossrail was, therefore best practice and putting them into practice during the delivery of Crossrail was a vital first step for the programme, achieved under the framework of an environmental management system (EMS).  Under bespoke process of supplier performance assurance developed within the EMS framework contractor environmental performance has improved year on year from compliance with the EMR, to levels beyond compliance and in some cases world class.

As part of that assurance process Crossrail has in particular developed an appraisal system that benchmarks and promotes construction noise & vibration management on a scale up to world class performance.  Through this mechanism and by deploying specialist noise & vibration staff to work with our contractors has left a legacy of contractor resource better equipped to work with reduced noise & vibration impacts in the future.

This website gives access to that EMS, which future projects can use as the starting point for delivering their own.  Many of the tools, templates and processes that were developed while Crossrail was being delivered are made available for immediate use, or modification prior to use, increasing the potential for future projects to apply them quickly and achieve even greater environmental performance.

Crossrail has promoted environmentally sustainable design by adopting CEEQUAL nd by working with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to develop the first BREEAM Bespoke specifically applicable to Crossrail underground stations.  At present the programme is on target to achieve CEEQUAL excellent for all it projects and a minimum of very good for all its central stations.

Crossrail is the first project in the UK to have achieved over 80% of its non-road mobile machinery fitted with diesel particulate filters or Euro Stage IIIB engines, thereby reducing the impact of construction on London’s air quality and leaving a legacy of plant in the market place that can be used on other projects.

Delivered one of the most extensive archaeological programmes ever undertaken in the UK while setting new innovative standards for dissemination of information to the public and wider public involvement in the programme itself.

Diverting several million tonnes of excavated material from landfill to beneficial reuse

Over 98% of Crossrail’s excavated material has been diverted from landfill to beneficial reuse.  A significant part of this was deposition of 3 million tonnes of Crossrail’s excavated material to Wallasea Island to construct the first phase of the RSPB’s landmark Wallasea Island conservation project.  This not only provided new habitat for wildlife, but also is contributing to a coastal flood defence scheme to protect the mainland from the threat posed by sea levels rises as a result of climate change, as well as acting as a carbon sink.

Reducing Crossrail’s carbon footprint

Crossrail developed a leading edge carbon footprint tool that has already formed the basis for predicting the carbon footprints of other infrastructure projects.  Through its development over the course of the project it has enabled the identification of benchmarks for energy consumption that projects will be able to use in the future to set carbon reduction targets.  In particular Crossrail has developed a construction carbon footprint tool that provides for the first time the ability to set construction carbon reduction targets as set against a reference set of emissions.  Through the use of the tool Crossrail is currently on target to achieve an 8% reduction in construction carbon emissions.

The sustainable specification of construction materials

Crossrail employed techniques developed by WRAP to reduce waste through good design and promoted specifications that maximised the use of cement substitutes.  Working with its contractors Crossrail an ethical scourcing in construction group to promote the sustainable sourcing of a number of products including concrete, steel, stone and mechanical and electrical plant.

Through all this and more, the main learning legacy from Crossrail’s environmental performance is that it stands as a testament to stakeholders concerned by the environmental impacts of future major infrastructure projects that the environmental commitments made during the authorisation process can and will be adhered to by the organisations delivering them.  During the passage of the bill through Parliament one of the key concerns raised time again by authorities and other stakeholders was how could they be certain that, without the usual level of control that they can exert over projects and with all the powers the eventual delivery organisation would have, the impacts on the environment would be controlled, reduced, or eliminated as promised.  Crossrail has demonstrated by example that delivery organisations can be trusted not just to deliver on environmental commitments given as part of the authorising process, but also to adopt environmental management measures over and above them without adding undue financial or schedule costs to the programme.  If future organisations can pick up the lessons learned from Crossrail there is every reason to be optimistic that the environmental performance of those future projects will be even better.