Construction workers stand on scaffolding, photograph by Chris Gray

Health effects of air pollution

Helping construction sites to measure polluting emissions

7 December 2023
6 min read

Arup have created an innovative tool, which can help construction companies to plan, monitor, and manage their polluting emissions.

Construction is a major source of air pollution in cities. In London, for example, construction contributes toward roughly 30% of particulate matter (PM10), which has devastating effects on people’s health.

While major sources of air pollution like transport have decreased their polluting emissions due to policies like ultra-low emissions zones, the construction industry has increased its overall share of emissions in recent decades.

Our work with the construction industry

Part of our work in the Health effects of air pollution programme is to work with businesses to reduce people’s exposure to air pollution. To that end, we worked with the Centre of Low Emission Construction (CLEC) last year to survey and interview people working in the construction industry.

We’re also working with Arup, an engineering consultancy firm, to establish exemplar construction developments across Lambeth and Southwark, which demonstrate best practice in reducing polluting emissions.

Our work with Arup and CLEC – which found most people in the industry are concerned about air pollution – can be found on our page reducing air pollution from construction sites.

Measuring polluting emissions from construction

Through this work, Arup have created an innovative tool, which can help construction companies to plan, monitor, and manage their polluting emissions.

The tool enables the measurement of emissions from non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) throughout the demolition and construction phases of a project. Crucially, this also helps commissioners, such as local authorities or landowners, to review progress against agreed targets for a specific site.

Who is the tool for?

  1. Developers to demonstrate how a potential contractor can reduce polluting emissions.
  2. Contractors who manage sites, planning, and NRMM to calculate which phases are most intensive and what equipment can be used to reduce emissions and meet tender requirements.
  3. Local authorities to determine whether they are meeting minimum policy requirements, such as Greater London Authority’s NRMM policy.
  4. Audit teams to request evidence for NRMM reporting.

How can I use the tool?

You can download the tool and user guide below. If you have any questions, please contact our Portfolio Manager focusing on air pollution and construction, Ben Pearce.

To unzip and use the Excel spreadsheet, it’s easy:

  1. Download the ZIP file, and right-click it
  2. In the menu that appears, select ‘Extract All’
  3. Choose a folder where you’d like the Excel spreadsheet to be saved (or you can save it to your desktop) and click the ‘Extract’ button.
Ben Pearce

Want to talk to us about our work on air pollution?

Contact our Portfolio Manager, Ben Pearce

Contact Ben