We ask readers to share their visions of the industry in 25 years’ time. Here, Sue Riddlestone calls for more measures to cut carbon emissions 

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B175 thought for tomorrow


Sir David Attenborough asked us all to take urgent action on climate change at the UN climate talks this month. He warned us that civilisations are going to collapse and much of nature will be wiped out to extinction if we don’t.

All buildings will need to be zero carbon in 25 years, designed to massively reduce energy demand

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But you, dear reader, are Sir David’s ally in all of this. The construction industry can contribute to cutting about a third of those deadly carbon emissions. And we all already know what to do, because we, as an industry, were ready to implement the government’s zero-carbon homes policy until it was scrapped in 2015. For the past 25 years, Bioregional has integrated zero carbon and been enabling sustainable lifestyles into developments from BedZED eco-village in London to our latest plans for 30 genuinely affordable homes for local people in high-price Surrey. With the right approaches, we can build like this within the normal range of costs.

All buildings will need to be zero carbon in 25 years, designed to massively reduce energy demand, with integrated renewable energy backed up by a zero-carbon electricity grid and to protect us from the already evident impacts of climate change like overheating and flooding. 

We also need to tackle construction materials, which account for 70% of embodied carbon. New approaches, such as building with wood, are less carbon intensive than concrete and double carbon reductions, as trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and lock it up in the timber buildings. 

So let’s get to it and do our bit to save the planet.

Sue Riddlestone is chief executive and co-founder of consultant Bioregional

Do you have a Thought for Tomorrow? Just send your name, job title and company, and 250 words to building@building.co.uk, with the heading “Building Your Future”, answering these questions:

  • What would you like the construction industry to look like in 25 years’ time?
  • And what needs to change to make that happen?