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Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Mott MacDonald Creates BIM-Enabled Carbon Portal on Europe’s Largest Infrastructure Project

15 Nov, 2019 Sponsored By: Bentley Systems


This year, Great Britain became the first major economy to enact legislation requiring it to deliver net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To support this goal, Mott MacDonald and SYSTRA JV leveraged digital advancements on High Speed Two (HS2), Europe’s largest infrastructure project, to create a BIM-enabled carbon portal that provides the project team with an online tool to assess the impact of design decisions on lifecycle carbon emissions.

HS2, a new 530-kilometer high-speed railway line, will enable Britain’s regional cities of Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham to benefit from more passenger capacity and reliable train service to London. Mott MacDonald and SYSTRA JV is developing the design for Area North on behalf of the Balfour Beatty VINCI JV. Area North is a 70-kilometer-plus portion of track that includes 48 viaducts, 68 overbridges, 27 underbridges, 31 culverts, 74 embankments, 40 cuttings, three tunnels, and 14 retaining walls.

More than 600 people have collaborated on the design side from 35 offices in 28 cities across eight countries using a connected data environment, based on Bentley’s ProjectWise. The distributed project team developed a digital twin that included a component digital catalog that improved understanding, quality, and constructability. The project team also implemented a model-based delivery to reduce production drawings and promote collaboration and engagement. The models contain the project’s visual and embedded information, which can easily be shared across the project team. The approach contributed to streamlining design coordination across a multidiscipline team.

The model-only approach improved results between the joint venture engineers and the BIM modelers. Image coutesy of Mott MacDonald.


“Through our model-only delivery approach, we used OpenBridge, GenerativeComponents, and Navigator to create over 4,000 models, and have seen improvements among our joint-venture and BIM modelers,” said Rob Dickson, project delivery manager with Mott MacDonald.

Mott MacDonald’s carbon portal made it simple to identify lower-carbon options during the design phase. The carbon portal’s drag-and-drop interface allows the team to import data from Bentley’s BIM models, incorporating comprehensive carbon and cost datasets. The team uses the carbon portal to compare various options, whether it is at needs definition, optioneering stage, or the detailed design stage, to help demonstrate where carbon and cost reductions have occurred.


Mott MacDonald used digital advancements to create a BIM-enabled construction, design, and management heat map. Image courtesy of Mott MacDonald.

Carbon savings accrue across all aspects of a project but, as in the case of HS2, industry research demonstrates 90% of possible savings and innovations are attained within the first 10% of project spend. The needs definition and optioneering stages are the best moments to influence the outcome. Therefore, Mott MacDonald and SYSTRA JV’s designers have to be aware of the implications of their decisions from the start, because they are locking-in impact on an asset that will last 100 years or more.


The carbon discipline team captured the construction methodology by using the bill of quantities of each asset to undertake the carbon calculations. The team used the carbon portal to assess the values and to provide a more complete picture of the environmental impact.

The calculations are complex, but Mott MacDonald estimates that construction emissions for Phase 1 (London-Birmingham) will be in the range of 5.8-6.1 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). However, the first 60 years of its operational phase are expected to result in a carbon saving of 3.0-3.2 (MtCO2e).

“Visualizing the risks and assumptions geospatially enabled our design teams to better understand areas of high risk and identify gaps to respond to and address during the design development phase,” said Tom Olasina, project director with Mott MacDonald.


About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff




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