Health effects of air pollution

Partnering to reduce air pollution from the construction sector

With Centre for Low Emission Construction (CLEC)

Key partnership information

Partner: Centre for Low Emission Construction (CLEC)

Funding amount: £30,000

Duration: April 2021 – June 2021

Programme: health effects of air pollution


What we’re doing together

We have commissioned CLEC to work with the construction industry to assess the potential to reduce air pollution in the sector.

CLEC will synthesise existing literature on the causes of air pollution from construction and undertake research to better understand the range of motivations for reducing them. They will be testing some ideas of potential solutions to reduce air pollution and produce a report which sets out the options for the construction industry to reduce air pollution.

This work will be sector-led and will involve extensive engagement with a range of relevant stakeholders in the construction sector including developers, primary contractors, land owners and local government. This will enable CLEC to gauge the sector’s current understanding of its impact on air pollution, what the industry felt it could do to improve air quality, and get feedback on initial suggestions

Following this research, we envisage a future piece of work where CLEC and/or other partners would develop tools or approaches to enable the industry to better understand and reduce air pollution. These would be developed with input from wider sector stakeholders.

Aims of the partnership

The objectives of the research are to address the following research questions:

  • What are the largest contributors to emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from the construction industry, what are the implications for exposure of employees and the population in the local area? How does this differ in terms of exposure risk, site size, phase of development, etc.?
  • What are the biggest opportunities for change based on potential for impact and sector demand? Where can existing practice be disseminated more widely? Where can best practice solutions be developed that go beyond this? This will be broken down to consider different pollutants, particularly particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and carbon.
  • Through what mechanisms would any interventions be enforced. For example, what role will regulators play?


Connection to our strategy

The construction industry contributes significantly to air pollution in Lambeth and Southwark. It is estimated to contribute 44% and 10% respectively to PM10 and PM2.5 emissions in Lambeth and Southwark. NRMM (non-road mobile machinery) contributes a further 6% and 15% respectively as well as 10% of NOx, although not all of this is related to construction[1].

There are clear evidence gaps around what’s known regarding construction-related pollution – both regarding the scale of the problem and potential for solutions to tackle it. This makes construction a relevant sector for our programme and is why we are committing funds to research as well as potential solutions, based on user-led design and scientific evidence.

Looking forward, our focus on place will allow us to develop practical projects that generate evidence around what works. We will be announcing further projects that we have funded to better understand and reduce air pollution in construction over the coming weeks and months.

[1] KCL research for GSTC

More about Centre for Low Emission Construction (CLEC)

CLEC works with industry partners using construction and demolition sites as 'living labs' for research into air pollution

Visit their website
Ben Pearce

Have questions about our partnership with Centre for Low Emission Construction?

Ben Pearce leads on our work to find solutions to air pollution

Contact Ben to find out more