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Fri December 06 2019

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Builders produce blueprint for low carbon future

11 Nov If the UK is to meet the government’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050, there are going to have to be some big changes in the construction industry. And today the National Federation of Builders sets out some proposals.

The cover of the NFB MCG report
The cover of the NFB MCG report

A move to natural capital accounting1 and redefining value in contract tendering are among the recommendations in the report Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon Future, out today.

The report has been produced by the National Federation of Builders’ (NFB) Major Contractors Group (MCG).

The MCG is urging government and other public sector clients to measure carbon when procuring construction work use. They advocate using the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 to use Lifetime Carbon as a procurement tool to assess the value of goods and services.

“The industrial strategy for construction majors on value, and one large section of value can be and should be the fight towards net zero emissions,” said Gren Tipper, director of the Construction Clients' Leadership Group (CCLG). “The industry has had decades of lowest price tendering and without much thought to value… The biggest added value aspect today is getting carbon reduction right.”

Another proposal for reducing the construction industry’s greenhouse gas emissions is to use less steel and concrete.

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“Cement and steel manufacturing are together responsible for about 16% of global carbon emissions,” said Eddy Taylor, Laing O’Rourke’s environment leader. “Therefore, one of our key priorities is to meet our clients' needs whilst using as little cement and steel as possible. Another big priority is minimising the carbon emissions of the assets that we build after we hand them over to our clients. Success depends on collaborating with our design teams, clients and end users, making sure we deploy the right products, techniques and technologies in ways that work for the end users as well as lowering carbon.”

MCG chair Mark Wakeford said: “The year 2050 might seem a long time away but it’s really not much time to radically change our industry. We must start now and the government, in whatever guise they return, must lead the way and make this a firm priority post election. Anyone still operating the same way as they are today in 20 years’ time will be lucky to still be in business. There are no excuses: government, contractors, the supply chain, manufacturers, designers and the trades must all embrace the challenge now, as highlighted in our recommendations.

“The report we are launching today is a call-to-arms; we’re telling the government and the industry alike to wake up to the reality of zero carbon and act now.”

The full report,Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon Future, is available at www.builders.org.uk/nfb-groups/nfb-major-contractors-group/mcg-carbon-report-november-2019

1. For more information on natural capital accounting, the Office for National Statistics  has produced a background paper with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). It is available at www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/methodologies/principlesofnaturalcapitalaccounting

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