Research: the effects of a water-bound construction consolidation center on off-site transport performance

The environmental impact of construction logistics is significant in urban areas, characterized by high receptor densities, less accessible sites, and limited storage space. To reduce negative externalities generated by urban construction transport and improve the use of existing inland waterway transport (IWT) infrastructure, the City of Brussels has implemented a water-bound Construction Consolidation Centre (BCCC). While the concept of a CCC has been implemented in different European cities, limited impact studies are available. A new paper by Brusselaers and Mommens assesses the environmental off-site road and IWT’s transport performance of the multimodal BCCC case.

Research approach

The sustainability impact is evaluated using economic external cost calculations, contextualized with transport planning indicators. Subsequently, findings are compared to business-as-usual (BAU) operations without a CCC as part of a scenario evaluation for the 24 large construction sites supplied through the CCC between Sep-2019 and Dec-2020.


Improvements in the IWT sector are necessary to tackle local emissions (NOx, PM), which rise significantly compared to BAU (+257 %), mainly attributable to less performant -yet ubiquitous- vessel engines and their long-running life. In contrast, other externalities decrease, most noticeably in congestion costs (-91 %), climate change (-66 %), noise (-79 %), and infrastructure costs (-60 %).

Overall, almost €50.000 of external costs are saved annually, a 59 % reduction compared to BAU. Additionally, improvements are observed in transport planning and efficiency, with 73 % timely deliveries and 93% delivery compliance, hence respecting the Just-In-Time and Just-In-Place principles.

Research implications

Promising results are shown to incentivize industry and policymakers to adopt a CCC in light of alleviating the impact of urban construction logistics (CL) if the overall external costs and mobility impacts are considered. Results should be further compared to other logistic solutions to evaluate complementary measures, including more differentiated scenario evaluations.

Practical implications

Although IWT alleviates road network use, air pollution from vessels should be addressed. An IWT-CCC can offer decision-makers a transport planning solution to decrease urban nuisances and increase resource efficiency use if specific IWT-CCC and CL applicability requirements are considered.

Source: Brusselaers, N., & Mommens, K. (2022). The effects of a water-bound construction consolidation centre on off-site transport performance: the case of the Brussels-Capital Region. Case Studies on Transport Policy, 10(4), 2092-2101.

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