Construction industry faces "quantum change" to hit carbon targets

The construction industry faces a “quantum change” if it is to meet the low carbon agenda, according to an industry report published today. The Innovation and Growth Team (IGT), which […]

Register now!

By Kelvin Ross

The construction industry faces a “quantum change” if it is to meet the low carbon agenda, according to an industry report published today.

The Innovation and Growth Team (IGT), which is drawn from the construction industry, was tasked by the government to consider how the construction sector could meet the low carbon agenda.

The report said the construction industry had engaged positively with the sustainability issue with many examples of cutting-edge practice.

But the Climate Change Act calls for the netUKcarbon account in 2050 to at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline, which will require a ‘quantum change’ in the industry’s response to this challenge, says the document.

The report highlights four themes that government and industry need to engage on to rise to the carbon challenge:

  • The potential size of the market – meeting the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions will affect every aspect of the built environment. The scale of the necessary change is considerable but there is much that could be done now, particularly with the existing building stock.
  • Opportunities for SMEs – transforming the built environment to low carbon could provide the industry with a 40 year programme of work and act as a springboard to growth for more than 200,000 small businesses in the sector.
  • The wider green economy benefits – the green economy represents an area of substantial potential growth for the UK. Creating a low carbon construction industry would develop skills and expertise that would be of great value to other sectors.
  • Stimulating demand – there would be little point in developing the necessary capacity and skills if the demand for low carbon was not there. Government and industry need to work closely together to identify the best ways to stimulate the market for low carbon and energy efficiency measures.
  • Paul Morrell, who led the IGT, said: “Meeting the low carbon agenda is both a challenge and an opportunity for the construction industry. It will require radical change to the way we do business as well as government action to meet the scale of the challenge. There are no easy answers.

    “I hope this report will mark the start of a detailed collaboration between industry and government to address this complex issue.”

    The report will now be considered by the government, which will respond to the recommendations next year.

    Construction Minister Mark Prisk said: “This report is a valuable contribution to the debate around how the construction industry can play its part in the UK meeting its low carbon responsibilities. We will carefully consider this important document and the government will respond to these detailed recommendations next year.

    “As a former chartered surveyor I am very much aware of the importance of the construction industry and the opportunity for growth the low carbon agenda represents. Now we need to make the most of that opportunity.

    “Success in moving to a low carbon construction industry would provide UK firms with the chance to grow overseas as other countries seek our expertise and skills in this area.”