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Live Labs 2 blog – Liverpool project: progress update

This month’s blog is from Krishna Priya Sivaprasad, Liverpool Live Labs 2 Assistant Project Manager. Krishna is a unique member of our project team as she spends half of her time working at LCC and the other half working with Colas Ltd. in the Innovation Management Team. 

Liverpool’s project is very much rooted in an urban experimentation - to decarbonise highways delivery and the road assets. 

The city's unique attributes position it as an ideal ground for conducting trials across its diverse neighbourhoods, home to different communities who all have different requirements from their local road network: a one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable.

Nationally, Liverpool City Council is one of the most ambitious authorities with a target to achieve net zero by 2030. It has already gained significant momentum in understanding it’s carbon footprint: Live Labs 2 will play a crucial role in achieving this aim by reshaping and transforming working methods.

Ecosystem for decarbonisation and full lifecycle approach

At the heart of our programme is a commitment to collaboration, one that sustains effective decision making based on full lifecycle carbon. 

Through scalable systems mapping and optioneering approaches - which includes systematically evaluating and selecting the best solutions from various alternatives by considering relevant factors like feasibility, carbon, etc - we aim to navigate the complex city environments.

Our hybrid approach delves into considering carbon not just at the construction phase, but throughout the extended lifecycle of the asset or network, including anticipated ongoing maintenance, refurbishment and repairs. 

In this way, we intend to demonstrate that our methods can influence what is built or improved, not just how. For example, changing the fundamental design of a road to better match current and future mobility requirements, such as reducing the road material volumes. 

The overarching goal is to create a framework for Liverpool which can be replicated nationwide, integrating decarbonisation into everyday operational processes for local authorities. 

Creating a framework for Liverpool that can be replicated nationwide

Liverpool's live lab will act as a comprehensive case study for cities, meaning that we will share our learnings with other locations. This will start with a collaboration with Aberdeen, as we both share coastal features, and urban environments.

A key collaboration involves working with Pell Frischmann and Colas – our innovation partners – to implement of a ‘Carbon Hierarchy Lens approach’. This aims to bridge the gap between the Council as the commissioning authority and the myriad of subcontractors across the design and build value chain to create a standardised approach. 

Our aim is for the project outputs to prompt a change in current standards, involving materials, processes, and even the very design and delivery of schemes. 

Through real world demonstrations, our project will showcase innovative technology and generate blueprints and user manuals, supported by comprehensive data on carbon impact. 

A key example will be verifiable case studies of low carbon plant, equipment and welfare assets demonstrated in different scenarios within Live Labs 2, enabling Liverpool City Council to drive change through new procurement standards. 

A pivotal step in the project will therefore involve implementing and demonstrating the enabling processes and tools. 

Building, connecting and enabling the ecosystem

One of our strengths is that we can collaborate, connect individuals and teams from diverse departments such as sustainability, heritage and culture. 

However, we face a significant challenge in moving from the conceptual to the practical implementation in the real world. This challenge stems from the broad landscape of emerging innovations and new operational processes, all of which have the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of schemes within Liverpool. Defining a lifecycle without precedents and shaping it into a functional model that aligns with our vision has been a valuable lesson for us.

We've already hosted a workshop, where current highways improvement contractors each shared their unique approach to carbon accounting. 

We recognise the importance of systematic evaluation, and we have adapted an innovation matrix and scorecard to assess each innovation against predetermined criteria in the local context. This allows us to ‘feed’ the optioneering process and make informed decisions for our upcoming demonstrators, on a scheme-by-scheme basis.

Our next steps include reviewing and extracting highways specific elements from LCC’s carbon data, and meeting with each contractor for in depth discussions on data and challenges faced during collection. Potential demonstrator sites for upcoming trials are also being explored.

We’ll also continue to work with other live lab projects to share our knowledge and enhance overall efficiency.

The overall aim for the Liverpool live lab is not just to build infrastructure, but to revolutionise construction standards and practices.

Further information


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