The University of Bath will work with specialist construction industry software company Causeway Technologies Ltd to develop a Carbon Calculation Engine as part of its Scope 3 Initiative to allow companies to estimate the embodied carbon in buildings and projects – a key part of the sector’s drive toward achieving Net Zero targets.

Following the award of an Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant, University of Bath experts will work alongside Causeway in a two-year collaborative programme on its Scope 3 Initiative. The programme will enable the company to improve the estimation of embodied carbon using data from its e-invoicing platform, Tradex.

Embodied carbon is, essentially, the carbon footprint of constructing a building. The calculations therefore require an understanding of all the materials used in a project and all the activities related to those materials, such as processing and transport. The Global Alliance for Building and Construction estimates the construction and use of buildings causes 37% of energy-related CO2 emissions.

The KTP project will develop a Carbon Calculation Engine that will use invoice data, along with University of Bath expertise in modelling and determining embodied carbon. This enhanced understanding will allow embodied carbon to be measured in real time as a building or structure is erected. Currently, some 15,000 supplier and contractor invoice transactions a day are handled by the Tradex e-invoicing platform.

“This KTP will allow us to develop a Carbon Calculation Engine that will enable our customers to predict and determine the 'as built' embodied carbon. The market opportunity is huge; over 7,000 building design practices have committed to measuring embodied carbon and there is significant industry activity in this area,” said Dr Adam O’Rourke, Causeway’s emerging technologies consultant.

“Working with the University of Bath means we can access relevant, world class research and, crucially, embed critical knowledge and skills within the company. These high level skills offered by partnering with the University, combined with the deep embedding of knowledge are not available through consultancy,” Adam O’Rourke added.

Under the terms of the KTP, an associate employed by the University of Bath will work at Causeway to develop the Carbon Calculation Engine. The associate will be supervised by Dr Stephen Allen, Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, and supported by Dr Rick Lupton, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, who will use his experience of data integration, ontologies, uncertainty, and data visualisation to support the academic delivery within the project. Dr Allen and Dr Lupton are also part of the University's Institute for Sustainability.

“This is an exciting collaboration for both the University and for the company. Causeway is developing cutting edge in-house software for the construction industry and we can advance that development in the critical areas of embodied carbon estimation and Net Zero targets,” Dr Allen said.

The University of Bath, under its Enterprise and Entrepreneurship programme, offers a range of development and collaboration opportunities including support for start-ups, consultancy, access to expert research networks, and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

KTPs are funded by Innovate UK. The programme aims to stimulate innovation, by providing industry-based training and development of talented university graduates, including postgraduates. Around 70% of associates are offered a post with the company on a permanent basis, following project completion. Organisations are eligible for a grant of up to 67% as an SME or up to 50% for a larger organisation or 75% for a non-profit organisation.

Typically, the KTP associate works on a strategic project at a company, varying in length from 12 months to 3 years. An academic supervisor at the University, with relevant expertise to the programme, maintains close involvement with the associate and organisation throughout.