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How can the Construction Industry Help the ‘Low Carbon 2025’ Target?

Published by The Landsite on 22nd June 2021 -

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Towards the start of this year, the Government outlined a plan in which all new homes would be made to meet ‘net zero’ (in terms of carbon emissions) by the year 2025. Admirable and worthy a goal though it might be, just how viable is it, in practise? After all, the construction sector has traditionally been one of the worst offenders when it comes to climate change contributions. A recent UN report found, in fact, that the industry contributed a sizeable 38% of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

How can the construction industry improve in this regard and help the Government reach its optimistic target?  We talked to Ramsey Assal, founder of property business network The Landsite, and asked him where he thought the greatest improvements were already (and could be) being made, moving forward.

Source local materials (and local professionals, if possible)

When thinking of emissions, especially when thinking about them in the terms of residential buildings, we tend, societally, to think of energy-based emissions – those produced from lighting and heating, for instance. Far fewer of us, however, consider the emissions produced in sourcing the materials used in the construction of new homes and new builds.

New build homes, for instance - packed to the rafters with energy-saving technologies - doesn’t count for much if the materials it’s built from have had to be flown in from the other side of the world. Though an extreme example, perhaps, the point remains – in order for the construction industry to truly ‘go green’, it needs to source materials as locally as possible, to reduce on emissions stemming from transport.

Using prefabricated materials, wherever possible

They were all the rage, then they were detested, but now people are coming back around to them again, and with good reason. Whether an entirely prefabricated, modular home, or simply a traditional new build making use of more prefabricated materials, prefab construction (in which the materials used are produced off-site to a highly-detailed specification) produces far less waste on builds, which in turn means far less embodied carbon is being produced over the course of a new build.

Reducing embodied carbon within the construction industry has been cited as one of the key priorities in the sector’s goal to operate in a more environmentally-friendly manner. What’s embodied carbon? The easiest way of looking at it is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the production of materials. Given that, according to a report by DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), over 55% of UK waste can be attributed to the construction industry, opting for prefabricated construction materials is something of a no-brainer.

More accurately gauge your new build project’s environmental performance

Even with the best intentions in the world, it can be difficult to accurately gauge just how well (or poorly) your projects are performing from an environmental standpoint. The number of variables and moving parts that need factoring in make it a tricky task for even the most seasoned of professionals. That’s where BREEAM can come in. The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (or, BREEAM) is an internationally-recognised framework that enables third-party certification of a project’s sustainability performance. Having been first established over three decades ago, BREEAM is now the benchmark for a building’s environmental performance.

Another benefit from going down the BREEAM route, is that you’re not just getting performance indicators in terms of emissions, but for a whole raft of sustainability metrics (sustainability in every sense of the word, and not just ecological, necessarily). These include transport impacts, ecotoxicity, compliance issues and life cycle assessments.

Find Environmental and Contamination Specialists 

Actively seek out more sustainable suppliers

Sourcing your build project’s materials locally is just one part of the problem, when it comes to sustainable procurement. The other aspect is how the materials, themselves, are produced. You might’ve found a nearby cement plant that offers fantastic value for money, but if its production methods are particularly energy or emissions-intensive, then it counts for very little.

Once a project is underway, it becomes more difficult to keep tabs on all the suppliers, in terms of which emissions are stemming from where. Much easier is to make sustainability a priority from the off, selecting suppliers based on their sustainability/environmental policies. The best way to determine whether a product/material has been sourced sustainably is to check the list of suppliers certified through BES 6001 – BREEAM’s Framework Standard for Responsible Sourcing.

There’s been a massively increased emphasis in recent years on producing more sustainable building materials. Amongst the most sustainable building materials are recycled plastic cladding, bamboo (widely cited by environmental construction specialists as being one of the most sustainable and effective building materials), so-called ‘green’ cement and wood fibre insulation.

The upshot

For the ‘net zero’ target to be anything more than a pipe dream for the Government, the construction sector needs to continue to implement new, greener practices as well as improving upon existing policies. There’s no denying that improvements have been made, however the pace needs to ramp up from here on in in order to help the UK Government reach its ambitious target. The Landsite offers construction, new home developers and property professionals throughout the property industry a platform from which they can procure supplies, professionals and develop networking connections.

New Homes on The Landsite 

Find Construction Management Services 

Find Construction and Building Contractors 

Interested to read similar articles on the construction industry? 

The Role of Sustainable Development Within the Build Environment 

How to Build Connections in the Construction Industry 

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Proud Partners of South East Construction Expo 2021

 

 


Tracey Assal

Online Property Platform Connecting ALL Sectors of the Property Industry

Link to The Landsite business profile

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