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Chief construction adviser tells construction companies to "de-carbonise" their businesses

Construction companies must look at the carbon footprint of their own businesses and integrate across the supply chain if they are to meet the legal obligation to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, the government’s chief construction adviser has told the industry.

Paul Morrell, who led the Innovation and Growth Team that produced the Low Carbon Construction report published today, said: “We have to de-carbonise our own businesses, which means looking right down through our supply chain.

He said small and medium sized enterprises should start with the Green Deal, developing an offer for customers “rather than just saying: ‘Give us the work.’”

“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.”

Chief construction adviser Paul Morrell

He told Construction News today: “SMEs should have a Green Deal package which is affordable and that they have got the skills at the rate that we need to deliver so that there doesn’t become inflation.”

Similar action should be taken all the way up the supply chain, he said.

He also stressed the importance of putting a value on carbon, as the main way to incentise changes in behaviour.

The report contained 65 recommendations, including:

  • The government should treat the transition to low carbon as a series of major projects
  • The government and industry should establish and publish a transparent, co-ordinated structure for all the organisations involved in reducing carbon
  • The government should published an “adequately detailed” programme of actions expected to achieve the 2050 target, including interim milestones to show expected progress

For the full list of recommendations, see the full report, attached.

Mr Morrell 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 Construction Products Association welcomed the report but reiterated its call for decisive leadership and co-operation between different parts of the industry.

CPA chief executive Michael Ankers said he supported the team’s recommendation that an existing homes hub, similar to the Zero Carbon Hub, is established. “The biggest challenge undoubtedly lies in making our existing buildings more energy efficient. Whilst energy efficiency products and solutions have been available for some time, there is still a need for the consumer to understand and grasp the opportunities to considerably improve the carbon performance of their homes… [The Zero Carbon Hub] is an excellent example of industry and government working together and we look forward to a similar mechanism being established for the existing housing stock as soon as possible.”

The government will consider the team’s recommendations and respond early next year.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association said it wanted to see the government take on the recommendations “as a way of demonstrating its commitment to a low carbon economy”.

CECA technical officeer John Wilson said the association particularly welcomed the report’s call for a group to be set up to explore solutions to the long-term funding of the development and maintenance of carbon compliance tools.

“There is a significant opportunity for construction in the new low carbon economy. In the context of civil engineering, carbon is a complex issue throughout the construction process, but contractors appreciate the key role the industry must play in reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Federation of Master Builders said the report was “bang on about what needs to be done”.

FMB director of external affairs Brian Berry said: “The report is a business plan for the entire construction industry over the next 40 years and offers a much needed sense of direction and aspiration to an industry struggling as a result of the recession.”






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