Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Nilton Li

Project Title
Reducing the Carbon footprint during the construction process by improving the design and measurement systems of heavy construction equipment gas emissions



Dr Ashraf El-Hamalawi
Prof Andrew Wheatley

Stephen McCoy
Peter Hill

Director of Research
Prof Jacqui Glass

Research Period

2014 - 2018


Reducing the Carbon footprint during the construction process by improving the design and measurement systems of heavy construction equipment gas emissions

Company Background:

The Caterpillar facility in Peterborough (UK) is the European Research and Development centre for one of the world’s largest investor-owned corporations. Its technology centre in Peterborough is part of the Caterpillar Product Development and Global Technology Division which is an integrated team with multimillion dollar dedicated R & D facilities around the world supporting and developing all current and future Caterpillar products. The European centre maintains long term sponsorship of projects and readers at Loughborough University.

Current state-of-the-art:

One of the main aims of current legislation and protocols such as PAS 2050 is measuring and reducing Carbon emissions. One of the main contributors towards construction gas emissions is the heavy construction equipment being used. If the latter’s emissions can be measured accurately, and then reduced, the Carbon footprint would in turn reduce during the whole construction life cycle.

In comparison with the current “in force” EPA fourth tier of emissions legislation, the fifth tier, and proposed future amendments, significantly reduces maximum emissions levels. It also introduces the need to measure further gas species including greenhouse gases to reduce Carbon effects and improve sustainability.

The development of heavy equipment engine, and in turn output emissions, requires an accuracy level to be more stringent than required by legislation. The requirement for reduced level of emissions, and the new technology used on current engines drives the need to identify, quantify and be more accurate in measuring emissions.

Very little literature investigating the accuracy of emission measurement and or quantifying the latter is currently available. With the negative effect of high levels of uncertainty, there is a need for an improved method of emissions measurement/quantification. This would lead to a better estimation of Carbon footprint, and also better specification/compliance with emissions levels. The latter would also improve the design of engines due to an improved understanding of the mechanics and chemistry arising from this research, allowing an optimisation of reduced Carbon emissions versus cost during the development stages which in turn should improve the environmental whole life cycle assessment of the construction facility.

Aims and Objectives:

The main aim of this project is to reduce the Carbon footprint of heavy equipment, which forms part of the whole life cycle assessment of the construction process and product. This will be achieved by improving the design and measurement processes of gaseous emissions from heavy equipment. This will lead to more accurate assessment and quantification of emissions levels, resulting in a better understanding of how to reduce emissions during the engine development stage.

The specific objectives of the project include:

  • To review and investigate the contribution of heavy equipment to Carbon emissions and the construction facility Life Cycle Assessment approach throughout the construction process under current standards such as the PAS2050 Protocol and ISO 14067:2013.
  • To investigate and understand the potential effects of different gas measurement systems on engine emissions.
  • To develop a method of quantifying those effects physically and mathematically, and optimising the designs via laboratory experiments and numerical modelling of the processes involved in these gas emissions.

To recommend modifications to current systems and/or the investment in alternative technologies to reduce gaseous measurement uncertainty and emissions, and its impact on carbon emissions.

Proposed Research Design and Methods:

The aim and objectives will be achieved via the following :

  • Conduct a comprehensive literature review in order to understand :
  • (a) the contribution of heavy equipment to Carbon emissions/ greenhouse gas effects and their impact on the whole Life Cycle Assessment approach for construction facilities.
  • the mathematical and physical mechanics, in addition to the theoretical chemistry involved in gas emissions and identifying any real data available for validation purposes.
  • Analysis of existing project monitoring data to determine the magnitude of the effects.
  • Design a test methodology and engine test programme (both numerical and physical models) to confirm and quantify the effects.
  • Onsite engine lab tests and numerical models at the University to establish the magnitude of the effects.
  • Suggest improvements within the design and measurement processes, and investigate any improvements to current systems/methodologies using further testing.
  • Identify alternative robust technologies that eliminate or minimise measurement uncertainty and/or inaccuracies and its impact.
  • Produce design guidelines for improved environmentally-friendly heavy construction equipment.

Expected Benefits and Outcomes:

The main expected outcomes and benefits of this project include :

  • Design guidelines for environmentally-friendly heavy construction equipment.
  • Reduced Carbon emissions from heavy equipment, thus reducing the Carbon footprint during the whole construction life cycle.
  • Improved accuracy of gas measurement in preparation for the introduction of regulated limits.
  • Identification of optimum measurement technologies, thus facilitating more effective measurement equipment investment decisions.

This work has the potential to influence proposed engine exhaust emissions legislation under the auspices of regulatory bodies worldwide.



Contact us

+44 (0)1509 222623

The Centre Administrator
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

Join us on Linkedin