Construct Zero proposes a nine-point plan to reduce carbon and help the construction industry to play its part in delivering the UK government’s objective of net zero for the whole economy by 2050.
The Construct Zero initiative – or CO2nstruct Zero as the organiser prefer to style it – does not set out to offers new solutions but instead brings together existing initiatives from various corners of the industry, consolidating it into collective action.
Overall UK emissions of CO2 have been calculated at 537 million tonnes in 2018. There are three areas, collectively representing 43% of the total, that are relevant to the construction sector: transport, buildings and construction activity.
Based on these areas, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has used the Climate Change Committee’s 6th Carbon Budget to determine nine priorities:
1. Accelerating the shift of the construction workforce to zero emission vehicles and onsite plant
2. Maximising use of modern methods of construction and improved onsite logistics, reducing waste and transport to sites
3. Championing developments and infrastructure investments that both enable connectivity with low carbon modes of transport and design to incorporate readiness for zero emission vehicles
4. Work with government to deliver retrofitting to improve energy efficiency of the existing housing stock
5. Scale up industry capability to deliver low carbon heat solutions in buildings, supporting heat pump deployment, trials of hydrogen heating systems and heat networks
6. Enhancing the energy performance of new and existing buildings through higher operational energy efficiency standards and better building energy performance monitoring
7. Implementing carbon measurement, to support our construction projects in making quantifiable decisions to remove carbon
8. Become world leaders in designing out carbon, developing the capability of our designers and construction professionals to develop designs in line with circular economy – reducing embedded and operational carbon, shifting commercial models to incentivise and reward measurable carbon reductions.
The CLC plans to monitor progress and provide quarterly updates to show industry performance against these priorities.
“The construction industry must come to terms with the impact of the built environment on the climate,” said CLC co-chair Any Mitchell. “The last year has shown the incredible things that we are capable of when we work together, responding to Covid-19 and keeping our industry working safely and effectively. We must now bring the same spirit and energy to addressing the climate emergency. If our industry is to thrive, we must proactively address the challenges we face before it is too late.”
Civil Engineering Contractors Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “Achieving net zero in construction is the single greatest challenge our sector will face in this century. The construction industry must adapt to a net zero future, not only to address the threat of climate change, but to modernise and keep up with our international competitors.
“This will require a whole-industry strategic approach, which is why we fully support the role of the Construction Leadership Council in spearheading this vital initiative.
“The CLC is in the process of developing measurable targets to monitor how the industry is moving towards net zero over the coming years, and it is the responsibility of everyone working in UK construction to get behind this initiative and deliver the net zero carbon economy of the future.”