The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which provides independent advice to Government on preparing climate change, recently called for ministers to seize the opportunity of a post coronavirus plan to make construction greener as it recovers.
A couple of weeks later the Government announced its £3bn green investment package to support 140,00 jobs. £2bn will go towards Green Home Grants for homeowners and landlords to insulate properties. A further £1bn will be used to improve energy efficiency in public sector buildings.
While the announcement was welcomed across the industry, there are still some reservations that the devil is in the unannounced detail. For example, the £1bn for public buildings is only for one year and there is doubt that government departments and local authorities will have time to resource this effectively.
In July, the Institution of Civil Engineers published its report, State of the Nation 2020 Infrastructure and the net-zero target. ICE President, Paul Sheffield cautions in his foreword that the industry needs to remain focused on climate change and the 2050 target.
The report makes several recommendations and highlights that the infrastructure we deliver today needs to be consistent with a net zero target that may sound deceptively distant to some. It identifies the economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a unique opportunity for the UK to recalibrate its approach and rebuild the economy around the net-zero target.
The Government was quick to remove the barriers to innovation new thinking in its efforts to inspire the innovation that built Nightingale hospitals in a matter of weeks. The sector needs to maintain that momentum and use the Construction Sector Deal to drive innovation that achieves sustainable solutions using modern methods. That also means ridding construction of the insidious “lowest price’ culture in procurement and focusing on added value and whole life cost.
With construction directly influencing almost half of the UK’s carbon emissions and two thirds of its waste, achieving success in the sector is critical to the nation. How long can a sector that knows what needs to be done keep repeating the mistakes of the past?
Anyone who has any doubts about the chances of success in achieving zero-carbon should hop on a plane to Copenhagen, a city that adopted a plan in 2009 and will be carbon neutral by 2025.