Glasgow Airport Investment Area (GAIA)


Client: Renfrewshire Council

Location: Renfrewshire, Scotland


The Glasgow Airport Investment Area (GAIA) is a nationally significant infrastructure scheme that has set a standard for low carbon development through the application of Publicly Available Standard (PAS) 2080: Carbon Management in Infrastructure.

The project will deliver new road and active travel infrastructure including bridges crossing the White Cart and Black Cart Waters. Improved connections between existing business areas, Glasgow Airport and the now designated Advanced Manufacturing & Innovation District Scotland will encourage economic growth through the creation of a district for innovation and commerce.

At the start of the project, Sweco’s Carbon & Sustainability Team undertook a benchmarking exercise using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to identify and pursue areas with the most potential for the scheme to bring about positive environmental, social and economic impacts. Significant opportunity to influence Goal 13 (Climate Action) was recognised, resulting in a formal commitment to minimise whole life carbon emissions associated with the project.

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The approach to carbon reduction centred on the PAS 2080:2016 methodology, which was developed in response to the UK Treasury’s Infrastructure Carbon Review (2013). PAS 2080 sets out a framework for calculating and reporting carbon across the design life of an infrastructure development, including material production and transport, construction/installation, operation, maintenance and end of life.

Successful implementation of PAS 2080 required early engagement, active management and Design Team integration. Design Team training was provided by our Carbon & Sustainability Team, which focused on promoting carbon management principles and awareness across design disciplines. A carbon baseline was calculated at the Options Appraisal Stage and updated at the Specimen Design Stage to enable the identification of carbon ‘hotspots’, allowing Design Teams to focus their efforts on carbon-intensive areas ensuring a proportionate focus on carbon reduction.

Acknowledging the importance of supply chain involvement, carbon reduction was incorporated as a key metric within the procurement process. Tendering contractors were assessed based on their technical and professional understanding of PAS 2080 principles, and subsequently challenged to demonstrate their ability to reduce carbon by a further 20% against the specimen design baseline using a consistent carbon accounting methodology. Contractual requirements were also established for the successful tenderer to ensure the continued measurement and monitoring of carbon throughout construction.


Using our knowledge of the PAS 2080 process, Sweco applied the methodology several months before its formal publication to support our client in becoming a low-carbon industry leader and achieving significant carbon savings.

Optimisation during the design stage resulted in savings of nearly 6,000 tonnes of carbon, and further reduction is anticipated during project construction. Overall, carbon savings of at least 6,500 tonnes are expected in association with cost savings of nearly £12M.

Findings from the GAIA project clearly show the carbon and cost benefits of effective carbon management at early design stages.

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