Mackenzie Construction appoints Bruna Lopes as smart surface research associate
Mackenzie Construction has appointed smart surface research associate Bruna Lopes to support the development of its sustainable surfacing offering Smart Surface.
The appointment comes after the firm was successfully awarded funding from Innovate UK for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde.
The KTP is Europe’s leading programme helping businesses to improve their competitiveness by enabling companies to work with higher education or research and technology organisations to obtain knowledge, technology or skills which are of strategic competitive importance. The UK-wide programme is overseen by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, and supported by 16 other public sector funding organisations.
Mackenzie Construction launched Smart Surface in 2018 as the conversation around net zero and driving down carbon emissions in the civil engineering sector gained traction. Smart Surface is a proven, fast, and innovative binding solution that delivers an efficient and sustainable option for surfacing by stabilising existing ground conditions to create or repair paths, roads, and hard standings. Where sufficient material exists on site it is possible to have zero importation of aggregates and zero off-site disposal of waste which greatly reduces the environmental footprint of projects and contributes to the circular economy, as well as supporting the journey towards net zero.
Working closely with Conor Boyle, Mackenzie Construction’s smart surface manager, and the Strathclyde University Team of Dr Matteo Pedrotti and Professor Alessandro Tarantino, Bruna will investigate the interaction between the binder and the soil, to deliver clear technical specifications for smart surface which ensure soil stability across multiple environments and applications.
Bruna explained her role on the project: “My current role is to understand and improve the existing processes and practices which have been developed by Mackenzie Construction over the last six years. Once I have a clear understanding of the step-by-step procedures that are in place, I’ll be doing laboratory testing to establish a comprehensive set of guidelines for a range of soils and situations. This will facilitate of comprehensive and adaptative procedures which will allow the Smart Surface service to be delivered consistently, no matter the environment.”
Mackenzie Construction has extensively trialled its Smart Surface service with clients across a range of sectors, including Paths for All, Perth and Kinross Council, Scottish Water and Scottish Canals. However, to further test and grow the offering, the business identified a need to enhance its capabilities in geomechanics and characterise and validate the performance of its binder product across a range of environmental profiles, to support development of a versatile, sustainable, road surfacing solution.
Sharing why she applied for the role, Bruna added: “One of the things that got me interested in applying for the position was a chance for me, as a researcher, to get some applied research in a real-world application which would be used immediately. The other big attraction was the focus on sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of projects across the industry.
“Given the recent context of COP26 in Glasgow and the growing global focus on sustainable practice, I believe we will see more and more of this kind of project over the next few years. It is abundantly clear that Smart Surface is a solution for the future – and I wanted to be involved from the very beginning. I’m thrilled to be applying my knowledge and expertise as part of the Mackenzie Construction team on this ground-breaking project.”
Andy Dalrymple, managing director at Mackenzie Construction, said: “We’re delighted to have Bruna on board with this project and are extremely proud to be moving this project forward so that we can support our clients to reach their ambitious net zero targets. Ultimately, the KTP project will enable us to offer our clients a more sustainable and circular surfacing solution and a progressive service resulting in greater reduction in costs, project timings, carbon outputs and environmental impact. We’re very proud of the work done on Smart Surface so far, and welcoming Bruna to the team allows us to take another step towards our goal.”