Lack of clarity impacting construction industry’s push to net zero

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The UK construction industry’s capability to achieve net zero targets is potentially being hindered by a lack of clarity around sustainability policy and standards, according to a new report from Currie & Brown.

The consultant’s UK Construction Market Outlook - October 2023 report indicates that achieving the government’s net zero goals will demand a major step-change in the development and management of the built environment, which currently accounts for 25% of all UK carbon emissions. 

But the report says the construction industry is being challenged on two fronts.

It says policy shifts, such as the delays to climate policies announced by the Government in September, risk reducing industry confidence in the Government’s roadmap to net zero and investment momentum in green solutions.

Plus, a lack of clarity around sustainability policy and standards is also impacting the sector.

Adam Mactavish, global director, sustainability, said: “Extending targets can help relieve pressure on the construction industry and property sector. 

“However, a question mark hangs over the necessity of these delays, in particular reducing obligations on landlords to improve energy efficiency will mean that occupiers and the nation remain more exposed to future energy price shocks. 

“Surely it is right to reduce demand now, rather than subsidise avoidable consumption into the future.”

The report says adding to this policy uncertainty, the industry is challenged by multiple standards for, and definitions of, net zero, which are causing confusion and inefficiencies. 

Currie & Brown has identified at least a dozen different standards for zero carbon buildings developed by different national bodies. 

There are also many more regional and local standards, and other related standards for energy and wider sustainability.

The report proposes that to move forward and effectively drive progress towards decarbonisation targets, the construction industry must work collaboratively to develop a common approach. 

It says the industry has already begun investing significant time and resources into creating solutions that align with policy goals – with progress evident in the UK net zero carbon buildings standard.

Nick Gray, chief operating officer, UK and Europe, added: “The lack of clarity on sustainability policy and standards is a significant challenge for the UK construction industry. 

“However, it also presents an opportunity for organisations to take a leading role in developing solutions and driving progress towards decarbonisation targets.

“Collaboration and coalescing around a common approach will be key to success. 

“This in turn should give the Government confidence in its ambitions and roadmap – and ultimately, enable both the industry, and the UK as a whole, to achieve its net zero targets.”

Click here to read the full report

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