Construction contractors commit to an ambitious goal of net zero carbon by 2050

Posted by Derek Mason

21st July 2020

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Eight major construction contractors have come together to declare their commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

If these companies take swift action to meet all of the objectives they’ve set, this will have a huge impact on UK emissions targets and will be of great benefit to the planet.

Co-ordinated by the Sustainability Director at Multiplex, Eva Gkenakou, the additional founding signatories are BAM Construct UK, BAM Nuttall, Canary Wharf Contractors, Morgan Sindall, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Willmott Dixon.

This is part of the global movement – Construction Declares – and follows on from similar declarations by architects and engineers.

The UK Contractors Declare statement begins, “The twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issues of our time. Buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.

For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings and cities and infrastructure as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.

The research and technology exist for us to begin that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will. Recognising this, we are committing to strengthen our working practices to create buildings and infrastructure assets that have a more positive impact on the world around us.”

The statement then goes on to state the contractors’ environmental commitments, including their promise to speed up their shift towards using low embodied carbon materials in all work, with a goal of reducing embodied carbon by at least 40% by 2030. The foundation of this goal comes from the World Green Building Council call to action.

All new projects will aim to make a positive contribution towards mitigating climate and biodiversity breakdown, and to use nature-based solutions. They will also reduce construction waste, in both construction and the supply chain, and work towards a circular economy.

To help reach these targets more rapidly, contractors will share knowledge and research on an open source basis, to help to address the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

These are ambitious targets, and it’s a positive step forward for the industry. I’m curious as to whether these goals can be hit as there is a lot to be done to get us all moving in the right direction. But this is certainly a promising start.

If you need assistance with the structural elements of an upcoming project, from a structural engineer who is committed to tackling our environmental challenges, please do get in touch.

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