Sustainable Construction

How a collaborative approach between Network Rail and Costain encouraged a sustainability ‘blueprint for delivery of major complex projects’ during the redevelopment of London Bridge station

The London Bridge station redevelopment project is an exemplar of what can be achieved as part of a major infrastructure programme in terms of sustainability.

The project led with a holistic approach to all aspects from design through to completion, placing sustainability at its very heart. The London Bridge redevelopment was arguably Europe’s most multifaceted infrastructure project and the finished station leaves a legacy for the capital as well as providing a ‘blueprint for delivery of major complex projects’.

Sustainability at the heart of design and construction

Sustainability has been a driving factor throughout the design and construction phases of the London Bridge station redevelopment project. Thanks to a well-structured and well supported sustainability agenda the project team delivered extensive improvements to both the construction and operational phases, which make this project a leader in sustainability best practice.

Examples of how the sustainability agenda and successes have made the London Bridge project stand out include:

  • Practices led to construction carbon savings of 1,687 tCO2e, embodied carbon savings of 8,354 tCO2e and annual operation carbon savings of 396 tCO2e
  • Construction phase sustainability initiatives saved £1.3 million with a payback of just six months
  • Operational phase sustainability initiatives saved £115k annually
  • Installation of a geothermal energy pile system contributed 6.1% carbon savings
  • Re-use of 5,000 m2 of aggregates and diversion of over 98% of waste from landfill
  • Donating around £90,000 to a variety of charitable causes
  • Engaging with over 1,000 students to provide guidance about career opportunities within construction and rail
  • Providing work experience for over 30 students, training to over 200 unemployed residents and 61 apprenticeships
  • Delivering several community improvement projects and 35 engagement events
  • Supporting the sustainability agenda by producing 52 sustainability focused best practice case studies to highlight how the project provided solutions and improvements to improve overall sustainability performance, both regarding the environment and to strengthen links with the local community
  • Producing five whole life costing (WLC) case studies that were distributed by Costain to both Network Rail and other Costain projects for wider learning.

The Thameslink Programme was extremely proud of its top-level commitment to sustainability. This was demonstrated by members of the Thameslink Programme’s executive team participating in a volunteering event with a local college for children who would benefit from an alternative educational setting; our most senior managers spent a day mentoring, coaching and providing mock interview training for over 30 students. This in turn inspired many more colleagues within the programme to volunteer with other charitable and educational institutions.

Encouraging and developing sustainability

The collaborative relationship between Network Rail and Costain encouraged the development and establishment of a considered, structured sustainability agenda with clear objectives and targets, was developed from the project’s outset.

Criteria included:

  • Formally assessing the sustainability of the project – The Western Approach Viaduct component of the project was awarded CEEQUAL Excellent (92.4%)
  • Delivering against the National Skills Academy (NSA) – The project joined the NSA in 2013 and bespoke targets were developed, based around training, apprenticeships and careers. Upon completion in 2017, it achieved 100%
  • Integrating LZC technology into the redevelopment – A geothermal energy pile system in the final build delivers carbon reductions of 6.1% and is a first for the client
  • Development of Whole Life Case (WLC) studies: – Five WLC best practice case studies were produced for onward learning on: Ground Source Energy, Escalators, Lifts, Photovoltaic Cells and Lighting.

Delivering carbon reductions

  • ‘Eco-Driver Training’ identified where and how savings could be made through efficient driving. The resulting 20% diesel reduction was estimated to save the project £10,000 and 71 tonnes CO2e
  • Switching the office to a Green Energy electricity tariff had a predicted saving of 742 tCO2e. Smart Meters were installed to encourage reduced energy usage by adding a competitive element; 1.5% less energy was used during this time compared to average daily use
  • To further encourage sustainability, a month-long campaign provided ideas about getting outside and connecting with nature, while a wildlife photo competition attracted over 100 entries
  • Network Rail also ran an internal sustainability recognition scheme for all contractors working on the Thameslink Programme. This encouraged 53 sustainability case studies which detail the wide range of innovation implemented; the project was recognised as either highly commended or the outright winner for several.

Notable achievements

  • Carbon reduction of project as a whole – 1,687 tCO2e
  • Embodied carbon reduction –  8,354 tCO2e
  • Waste to landfill figures – 98% diversion from landfill
  • Any in-use figures on energy use, heating and cooling etc once building has been completed – 1,260,038 kWh saved every year during operation
  • Amount of recycled material used – 99.8% recycled aggregate
  • Energy reduction due to technology (GSHPs, low energy lighting) – 396 tCO2e saved annually during operation
  • 87% deliveries to site were within 35 miles.

Further information
For more information on this Learning Legacy case study please email