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Air quality

Crossrail is committed to reducing particulate emissions from construction machinery as part of the environmental minimum requirements standards it is required to meet.

The use of diesel particulate filters or cleaner Euro Stage IIIB engines on construction plant and equipment is helping minimise the negative impact on air quality from diesel emissions.

The supply chain engagement indicates that in stipulating high requirements, mega projects such as Crossrail are able to stimulate the market, making it worthwhile for the supply chain to invest in this equipment. The benefit of this carries through to projects beyond Crossrail, particularly to smaller projects that could not otherwise influence this level of change.

84 per cent construction machinery fitted with emission controls

Eighty-four per cent of equipment used in the central section is fitted with emissions controls. A further 10 per cent of equipment was awarded a dispensation where it was not deemed practicable to fit these controls; a reduction from the previous year. There has been a focus on promoting the use of emissions controls on equipment such as generators which are recognised across the industry as difficult to retrofit. This type of equipment had been dispensed in previous years but this year it was reported as non-compliant. This will remain an area of focus.

Air quality - Construction machinery emissions control performance_209039

A 2014 Network Rail review of compliance against the requirements of Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) on emissions confirmed that 72 per cent were fitted with emissions controls or Euro IIIB engines, making them compliant. It is the intention to undertake further analysis on NRMM in the next year.

Crossrail continued to provide advice to the Greater London Authority on the implementation of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone for construction machinery, which came into force in September 2015.

Clearing the air - Diesel Emission Controls

Vehicle fitted with a diesel particulate filter_122455

Crossrail is leading the way across the construction industry by requiring our contractors to use diesel engines that that emit less PM10 – either by using newer cleaner (Tier IIIB) engines or by retrofitting an emissions control device like a diesel particulate filter (DPF) onto an existing engine. 

The use of these cleaner engines will contribute to improved air quality in London, especially for communities around Crossrail's sites.

Some pieces of plant, including telehandlers, small dumpers and some specialist pieces of plant are very difficult to retrofit with a DPF and so Crossrail has granted dispensations to contractors in relation to this equipment.

Examples of best practice

All of the contractors have taken a huge step forwards in tackling this issue by introducing systems and processes for using the cleaner engines.  Some contractors are using a “stickers” that are attached to the plant on site and demonstrate visually that the vehicles are meeting the requirements.  These can be related to a log of the vehicles showing the details of the emissions control.  Some contractors are now tackling difficult equipment such as piling rigs, crawler cranes and generators.

Living Walls

13728_Living walls Finsbury Circus

Planting trees isn’t always necessarily the best way to reduce air pollution on city streets. Instead, “green walls”—blanketing sides of buildings with grass, ivy, or other plants — might be the most effective solution.

Some green walls in London are being funded by the Department for Transport's Clean Air Fund. The measures have been designed specifically to reduce levels of PM10, a pollutant coming mostly from traffic emissions, by between 10 and 20 per cent where applied.  The living walls consist of plants that thrive in the urban environment and will benefit biodiversity by providing new wildlife habitats.

We have supported this initiative by installing temporary living, breathing vertical gardens around some worksites in Central London. The gardens help improve air quality by reducing dust, pollen and carbon dioxide levels.

The first living walls were installed at sites on Park Lane and Finsbury Circus gardens, with further living walls installed at Bond Street and Farringdon.