Decarbonisation like ecology and sustainability became another buzzword for coming change in the construction industry. But what does it actually mean? And how can your company decarbonise? Let's find out!
Carbon footprint, sustainability and decarbonization have become buzzwords that probably all of us know. This is not a coincidence as more and more people are becoming aware of their environmental impact, pushing the government to take more decisive steps towards changes in economic and ecological laws. One topic being raised more often is that of decarbonization. We hear everywhere that all sectors will need to take part in this process, especially construction. So, we need to know why the construction industry is so crucial in decarbonization and what this term exactly means. Let’s find out in today’s article!
Decarbonization is the process of removing or reducing a country’s economy’s carbon dioxide output. It has begun to be more of a buzzword nowadays, used whenever the topic of needed changes in the industry is raised. Decarbonization means all kinds of actions that can lead to a decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere. To understand how we should change our companies, we need to start with understanding the process.
Why is decarbonization crucial?
Carbon dioxide is one of the main factors that lead to global warming. A climate crisis means problems like drought while other regions experience extreme precipitation, and animal and plant species extinction. If we do not want this to happen, we cannot allow the average temperature to rise two degrees Celsius. To accomplish this, the global atmospheric carbon dioxide needs to remain below 450 parts per million. Recently, we exceeded 400! The limit is close, so there is no more time to lose!
The UK government legislated the net-zero target for carbon emission by 2050 and later pointed out how construction will be one of the key industries needed to succeed in this goal. Why? Let’s consider the environmental impact that the industry has first.
The construction industry:
generates millions of tons of waste every year (59% of all in the UK)
impacts animals with light and noise pollution from construction sites
is responsible for 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions
Learn more about how construction affects the environment here.
These numbers are alarming, but they show us that if we do not start changing the way we do business, the zero-net target may be impossible to obtain.
The situation is serious. However, it is not time to give up yet. There is still a chance for the industry to avoid causing environmental changes. The Construction Leadership Council recently released a zero-net target scheme setting up nine priorities in three sectors that generate the most considerable amount of fossil fuels: Transport, Buildings and Construction Activities.
Shifting towards zero-emission vehicles and onsite plants
Increasing usage of Modern Methods of Construction that reduces waste, noise and air pollution and improving onsite logistics
Changing the development and infrastructure investments that both enable connectivity with low-carbon modes of transport and design to incorporate readiness for zero-emission vehicles
Delivering retrofitting to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings
Calculating the industry capability to provide low-carbon heat solutions in facilities with aspects like heat pump deployment, trials of hydrogen heating systems and heat networks
Increasing the efficiency of new and existing buildings thanks to higher energy efficiency standards and better building energy performance monitoring
Creating and implementing carbon measurements to support construction projects
Becoming a world that designs out carbon and develops the capability of designers and construction professionals to create designs and projects in line with the new greener economy
Supporting the development of low carbon materials (especially concrete and steel) and low-carbon solutions for manufacturing production and distribution
The Council also stated that they would develop measurable targets to monitor how the industry is progressing with support from the government.
You can find the Construction Leadership Council Press Release [here].
These nine points created by the Construction Leadership Council may seem rather general, but they are a good start. When we look around, the small changes mentioned by them have already started to be implemented. A good example are the internet searches for eco-friendly roofing materials and energy-saving windows, which increased by 244,58% and 179,05% compared to the previous year. Customers are changing their approach from price driving decisions to the most energy-efficient and durable ones more often.
Let’s focus on your company and what you can do to decarbonize.
Firstly, you should consider what impact your business has on the environment and how it affects air, water, animals and how much waste it generates.
Then, you can try to implement small steps that will bring you closer to the decarbonization goal. It could be, for example, using the method of 4Rs, which do not require any significant investments.
The best scenario is where your company has time and resources. In that case, you should consider investing in sustainable technologies like New Methods of Construction or Project Management Software that will help your company decarbonize and gain a competitive advantage in your market.
As you can see, there are many possibilities. You only have to choose the best path for you!
Modern Technology, like ERP software, can support the decarbonization process in your company in many ways.
It helps schedule work efficiently. Thanks to this, a smaller carbon footprint is generated during your project's execution, as there is no risk of downtime and delays.
It gives you precise information about purchase orders and materials that you already have. Therefore, there is no risk that you will order new redundant materials, generating extra carbon amounts.
It stores all needed documentation in one place. You will not need to print every single document, sometimes even multiple times! It is beneficial not only for the environment (less paper, ink and energy to print it) but also for your time!
You can learn more about how else digital solutions can help your company here.
For sure, a shift toward sustainable construction will be a big challenge for all of us. After all, many companies have to change their processes from the very start. However, no matter what approach we will choose, this change is a must if we want to avoid a climate crisis. On the more positive side, coming changes can be a significant opportunity for the whole industry. According to the CITB Building Skills for Net Zero Report, energy efficiency measures can mean retraining and creating new job positions for almost 350,000 people.
Andy Mitchell, Co-Chair of Construction Leadership Council, in summing up the coming years, said:
“None of this is going to be easy, and I appreciate that for many people, it may seem totally out of reach. However, the last 12 months have shown us what we’re capable of when we work together. We need everyone to work together – and we need people to step up as champions of the industry that will help to drive behaviour change and support others to tackle these challenges.”"
We also believe that if we work together, we can make a difference and change the future of construction into a greener one! We are in this together!
To sum up, decarbonisation is a process crucial for the future of the UK's economy. At the same time, the construction industry is a critical sector in achieve this. The Construction Leadership Council recently presented nine priorities for the zero-net target scheme, and all of them will be developed soon. Before that happens, we should already be taking the first steps towards greener construction. It can be through thoughtful recycling, sustainable technologies or investment in ERP software.
If you are interested in how we can support your company in your daily work and decarbonisation process, contact us!!
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