The UK Green Construction Board estimates the built environment contributes 40% of the UK's carbon footprint. Pressure is, therefore, mounting on construction to find ways to reduce emissions and help meet net zero targets. For example:
- The World Green Building Council reported on key climate issues in its 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction. They include: reducing use of new materials or those with environmental impacts; nature-based solutions (like green roofs); health; the need for passive design and low-energy cooling; and a new "Buildings Climate Tracker" to track decarbonisation progress (at chapter 6).
- The Climate Change Committee (CCC) asked the government to make a bold, exemplary net zero commitment to ensure future buildings are comfortable, healthy spaces and resilient to climate risks. In its sixth and the latest of its Carbon Budgets (required by the Climate Change Act 2008), the CCC advised the government on the volume of greenhouse gas (GSG) emissions for 2033 -2037 having already reported in Buildings that UK buildings' direct GHG emissions made up 17% of UK GHG emissions.
- The government announced its Sixth Carbon Budget (or "CB6") on 20 April 2021, setting a new target to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels (underpinned by, for example, the Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, the Industrial decarbonisation strategy and Build, Build, Build). Legislation to embed the new target will follow.
- The Environmental Audit Committee is conducting an inquiry into the Sustainability of the built environment to consider the best routes to net zero and how construction can become "net zero ready". (You can respond, before 15 May 2021, here).
Acknowledging climate change and meeting net zero is a demanding challenge especially for those affected by the pandemic. Yet, as scientific knowledge expands, engagement throughout the sector is the only option. Suddenly, saving the world is a job for everyone not just the superheroes.