achieving net zero in the construction industry

Construction and its Impact on Net Zero

Construction is booming in the residential sector, with demand exceeding supply and house prices ever increasing. It is estimated that our buildings are responsible for over half of our carbon emissions in the UK. So, where does construction fit into the path to net zero?

 

The embodied energy in building materials are often overlooked- this includes the energy required to extract the raw materials, process them, assemble them into usable products and transport them to site. Cement, concrete, and steel are all carbon intensive in the way that they are made.

For example, it is estimated than on average, a new build home is responsible for a huge 80 tonnes of carbon in its construction!*1 Concrete alone, requires heat and energy inputs resulting in about one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions for every one tonne of cement produced. The government’s Future Home Standard aims to ensure that all new houses from 2025 will produce 75% less carbon emissions than existing new builds.

Building Regulations’ requirements for operational efficiency, may have the unintended consequence of increasing the embodied energy of the buildings they serve. This in turn offsets the carbon savings of the whole-life of a building. It is therefore very important to standardise the industry’s reporting of embodied energy to prevent merely shifting the time at which energy is ‘spent’ and actually reducing the net present carbon cost of any project.

The UK construction industry is the largest consumer of natural resources in the country with over 400 million tonnes of material consumed each year *2. As the government and the country are getting behind achieving net zero by 2050, the construction industry has taken a long hard look at itself, and its impact on the UK’s carbon footprint.

Steel and concrete have long been the staple ingredients in the construction mix; however, the carbon content can be reduced by specifying them to be low-carbon and sourcing them responsibly. Alternative materials have been making an impact, especially timber in house building. Modern methods of construction are helping hugely in reducing the carbon impact of building.

From an operational point of view, technologies are being added to new builds showcasing solar panels, air source heat pumps, SMART LED lighting, rainwater harvesting, EV charging points and infrared heating will help with low carbon operation of our buildings.

For our webinar ‘Achieving Net Zero in the Construction Industry’, we are lucky enough to be joined by Stuart Milne’s Director of Innovation and Sustainability, Stewart Dalgarno. Stuart Milne are one of the country’s leading low carbon house builders and have pioneered the construction of timber framed low carbon houses.

Along with Stewart, we will be exploring the carbon impact of construction and how it can be reduced to help create a NetZero world.

We will be exploring how to reduce the carbon impact of construction with one of the country’s leading low carbon house builders. Stuart Milne homes have pioneered the construction of timber framed low carbon houses

Join our  webinar on 7th July 2022 to be part of the insightful conversation.

*1 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/oct/14/carbon-footprint-house

*2 https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Embodied_energy_in_construction

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