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Fri October 30 2020

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It's now or never, says Willmott Dixon, ramping up carbon targets

29 Sep Willmott Dixon has set out a new sustainable development strategy with the goal of making all of its new build and refurbishment projects ‘net zero carbon in operation’ from 2030.

Chief executive Rick Willmott
Chief executive Rick Willmott

Willmott Dixon has committed to making all of its operations zero carbon by 2030 – 10 years away – and is aiming for its supply chain partners to be net zero carbon in operation by 2040.

The new strategy is called Now or Never; our decisive decade.

Over the past 10 years Willmott Dixon has already reduced carbon emissions intensity from its own operations by 61%, it says. The company is currently an enthusiastic user of carbon offsetting, giving money to carbon reduction projects around the world to compensate for its own polluting activities. In this way it has been able to claim that it has been a carbon neutral business since 2012.

By 2030 it intends to cut all of its operational carbon emissions to zero.   Along the way it will continue to offset its emissions by planting 100,000 trees. But by the end of the decade there will be no more need for offsetting, Willmott Dixon says.

The Now or Never strategy is split into three themes, Brilliant Buildings, Building Lives and Better Planet.

Brilliant Buildings

• All new buildings and major refurbishments will achieve net zero operational carbon

• All new buildings and major refurbishments will be future-climate ready and optimise user health and wellbeing

• By the end of 2040, all buildings and major refurbishments will be delivered with net zero embodied carbon

• By the end of 2040, the supply chain will achieve net zero operational carbon

Building Lives

• The company will deliver high-impact social value which it can demonstrate meets the needs of local communities wherever we work

• How it does business will set the standard for social value in the construction sector

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• It will support 1,000 people who face significant career barriers

• Improve the lives of 100,000 people through a series of corpporate interventions

Better Planet

• It will be a zero-carbon company without any offsetting

• It will generate zero avoidable waste

• It will halve the volume of water it uses on its projects

• It will deliver ‘environmental net gain’ on all projects

Group chief executive Rick Willmott said: “We’ve set some ambitious targets, some of the toughest for the construction sector, as we feel that now is the time for bold action if we are to bequeath future generations a planet not suffering from the consequences of past inaction in tackling the causes of climate change, but instead is one that they can live and thrive in.

“In laying out our road map for the next decade, we are also setting out how we are going to work with customers, supply chain partners and industry colleagues in creating a carbon free construction sector, as this is an issue that impacts on everyone, and we’ll need to work together to achieve our common aspirations for a ‘greener’ built environment.”

According to sustainability consultant Carbon Intelligence, Willmott Dixon has gone further than any other construction contractor.

Jonathan Sykes, chairman of Carbon Intelligence said, "Willmott Dixon has set the most ambitious science-based target in the construction sector by aiming for zero emissions in its operations by 2030 and supply chain by 2040. Its actions will have a significant influence on reducing the climate impact of the built environment in the UK."   

The Now or Never strategy is underpinned by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which has approved Willmott Dixon’s emissions reduction targets as being in line with an overall need to limit a global temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change.

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