By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East
Earlier this year, the UK parliament became the first in the world to declare a national climate emergency, marking a renewed sense of urgency in tacking climate change.
Since then, hundreds of local authorities and organisations have acknowledged that we are in an emergency situation and it’s something we can no longer ignore. Every business of every size must play their part, especially construction.
Our industry is one of the biggest and it contributes to 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint, but because of this and because of what we do, we have the potential to make a difference. More than any other industry, our decisions, innovations, ideas and products have a direct impact on the environment, the local community and area. We accept that we have been part of the problem but that’s why we need to change and become part of the solution.
For us, most of the changes that we need to make to protect the environment can also improve the quality of our final product – a win, win situation. It’s not even necessarily changing how we work; it’s making better decisions and ensuring we are working with and advising construction clients of the opportunities available to them. In the design phase of a project, there are a number of opportunities to make eco-friendly choices including; using recycled or natural building materials that produce less CO2, including renewable energy sources in building designs or even strategic window placement to maximise the use of natural light. Once the building is designed, new opportunities for sustainable construction practices open up on the site and using recycled or reused materials rather than filling local landfills can help reduce construction site waste.
Back in June, major contractors were among business leaders who urged the prime minister to adopt a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050. Skanska, Cundall and Willmott Dixon all signed the letter. This highlights how many of us are adopting more energy efficient practices, so things are moving in the right direction, we just need to continue to drive progress through action, innovation and collaboration. This is no longer a nice to do or just Corporate Social Responsibility, it’s essential for us and all future generations.
Constructing Excellence in the North East has partnered with Climate Action North to bring together organisations from all sectors to discuss the current issues with the climate emergency. The event, which is happening on 12 November, will discuss how the current emergency impacts the day to day running of organisations including procurement and tendering opportunities, how businesses can take action to mitigate the risks involved and how businesses can remain resilient in the changing climate. Industry experts will also be speaking on the mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain system and how this translates into projects which address key biodiversity issues.
For more information on the Construction in a Changing Climate event, or to book tickets, contact Grace Collinson, on 0191 500 7880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.