Figures will be made available for government and public alike

The Construction Leadership Council has called on firms to play their part in tackling climate change as it reveals plans to share quarterly data with the government on the industry’s progress towards net zero.

The move is part of a new industry-wide campaign, dubbed C02nstruct Zero, which the CLC said will aim to “drive carbon out of all parts of the construction sector, from manufacturing and design to construction and operation of assets”.

Andy Mitchell

CLC chair Andy Mitchell said the industry should use the spirit of togetherness fostered during the covid pandemic to tackle carbon emissions

As part of the initiative, the CLC said it will share the industry’s performance data on reducing emissions with both the government and the public to show what progress the industry is making on achieving net zero.

The announcement comes amid a backlash among construction trade bodies against the scarcity of green policies in last week’s Budget given that the government is preparing to host the UN climate change conference (COP26) later this year.

> Andy Mitchell: We must find a way to tackle the climate emergency more effectively

The CLC said the new campaign will act as the “focal point of engagement” for the industry with the government ahead of the conference, which will be held in Glasgow in November.

Setting out a nine-point plan to drive down emissions, the CLC said it will encourage firms to use zero emission vehicles and onsite plant, champion infrastructure projects which support low carbon modes of transport and prioritise low carbon materials including concrete and steel.

It also said that it wants to implement carbon measurement to support projects in “making quantifiable decisions to remove carbon,” and become world leaders in developing the capability of designers and construction professionals in “designing out carbon”.

It added that it is not the CLC’s role to develop solutions to these initiatives, but that it did have a critical role to play to drive change by bringing people together, sharing new ideas and setting transparent goals.

CLC chair Andy Mitchell (pictured) said he wanted to harness the collaborative spirit seen in the industry during the covid pandemic to “proactively address the challenges we face before it is too late”.

He said: “There is no bigger challenge that our industry faces than the need to decarbonise. We need to pull the whole industry together, letting everyone know what they can do to reduce carbon, while unlocking strategic changes that will set the sector on a new course towards net zero.”

Several big contractors have pledged to reduce carbon emissions, including Mace which last year said it had cut emissions by 50%. In its latest business strategy, the firm said it wants to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2030 and cut energy demand 30% by the same year. It also wants to reduce waste by 50% by the start of the next decade and cut water consumption by 40%.

Construction minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan added that the only way to eliminate the UK’s contribution to climate change was by “working with industry to make practical changes to secure a better low-carbon future”.

She added: “I am delighted that, through CO2nstruct Zero, the construction sector is showing the unity and leadership to make this happen and ensure we build back greener.”

Civil Engineering Contractors Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner also welcomed the campaign, saying it was the “responsibility of everyone working in UK construction to get behind this initiative and deliver the net zero carbon economy of the future”.

He warned that the industry “must adapt to a net zero future, not only to address the threat of climate change, but to modernise and keep up with our international competitors”.

Last week’s Budget included no mention of either the government’s flagship Green Homes Grant scheme for energy efficiency improvement to homes or a national retrofit strategy to replace it once the existing scheme runs out next year.

It has provoked criticism from several construction groups, including the UK Green Building council, whose chief executive Julie Hirigoyen told Building: “In the year of [the UK] hosting [climate change conference] COP, the UK should be investing in world-leading policies, not missing opportunities.”

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