The Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Alan Robins, officially launched a new research, development and innovation centre at Plus X Brighton on Thursday 1st July.

Aimed at raising awareness of the carbon and wider ethical impact of construction materials as well as researching, developing and producing innovative new low carbon materials, the idea was the brainchild of Roadways’ chief executive, James Bailey.

James said, “To celebrate the launch of our new facility, we invited eminent industry experts, local dignitaries and businesspeople to join us for a round table debate about saving carbon in Brighton. It certainly stimulated an interesting and immersive conversation around what can and should be done in the city. We’re not leaving it there though, we’ll be following up with those who attended and pledged their support, and seeing how we can all work in collaboration for the benefit of our community and the environment.”

Roadways is a regional leader in highways construction and the built environment.

“Not many people know that the concrete carried in a single drum mixer truck typically involves as much CO₂ as driving 17,000 kilometres by car,” adds James, “That’s halfway around the earth!”

In welcoming guests to the event, The Mayor said, “I’m delighted to be here this afternoon to officially launch Roadways’ Research & Development and Innovation Hub at the outstanding Plus X building here in Brighton. Our city’s goal is to become carbon neutral by 2030. That’s only nine years away. To achieve the target we must reduce climate-damaging carbon emissions in a big way. This event gives us an opportunity to debate how our actions as individuals, organisations, industry and business can count.

Phélim Mac Cafferty, Brighton Council’s Leader, calls the situation “more than a wake-up call, this is an emergency” and I couldn’t agree more. 2030 is certainly an ambitious target but Brighton can lead the way. James Bailey believes we can save 1,000 the amount of carbon emissions. He tells me that globally construction is responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions. I can assure you that as Mayor I’m entirely behind the concept of making Brighton save 1,000 times the carbon emissions of other cities – basically because we have no choice.”

James Bailey responded, “Some construction professionals and much of the wider public are simply not aware how the carbon footprint of concrete and other construction materials can be an order of magnitude greater than other everyday items.

“As a result they are unlikely to consider it a priority to cut down on concrete consumption. This would make a massively bigger difference to global warming than just focusing on the things we see in the headlines everyday – like flying, low energy lightbulbs or electric cars. Just ten wheelbarrows of concrete have the same carbon footprint as a flight ticket from London to Madrid. Looking at it another way: it would take a football stadium full of mature trees two years to absorb the CO₂ of that single concrete mixer truck.”

Roadways has already developed and launched asphalt that saves 40% CO₂. For each lorry load, that’s a CO₂ saving equivalent to driving 3,500 kilometres by car. They’re actively looking to collaborate with civil and structural engineers, architects, and anyone with an interest in the industry who has the same ethical and environmentally focused goals.