Taking place so soon after COP-26, there was undoubtedly an air of interest and motivation to seriously work towards climate change targets. After spending the day at the London Build Sustainability Summit 2021 some pressing key themes came to light.
Net Zero Standard
Net zero was the big buzzword of the day as changing policy will affect both professional and personal lives. Making small changes in our personal lives is easily achieved. To achieve net-zero targets within the built environment is an undeniable challenge. However, by opting for more sustainable options, excellent progress can be made. It’s easier than you think and can be very cost effective.
Conscious choices to use less carbon intensive materials, incorporating sustainable and recycled materials where possible, optimising design to minimize waste and consumption and prioritizing the reuse of existing materials, go a long way.
A lot of perfectly good materials get recycled and downgraded through the process. Reused materials are more beneficial and should always be used over virgin materials. Urban mining provides plenty of perfectly good materials that can be reused or repurposed. Fabric first design where significant reductions in carbon emissions can be achieved is becoming more important in planning submissions.
The cost of emissions is another key component. At present, making sustainable choices often comes down to cost. However, there needs to be a mind shift towards considering the environmental costs or carbon cost of the development. This is not only linked to embodied and operational carbon, but also the impact on the UK environment such as increased flooding and the devastating effects of extreme weather conditions. Whilst this type of assessment called carbon offset is usually carried out through pre-planning reports and for major projects there is a fee to pay too, the results seem to only be taken at a minimum.
The collective voices on stage at this London Build 2021 Sustainability Summit echoed. We all need to reframe the narrative; sustainable choices are actually cost effective and reduce the carbon offset fee; short-term investment achieves long-term gain; meeting and exceeding planning requirements will take huge strides towards truly sustainable and net-zero buildings; building sustainably is the construction industry’s responsibility to help design a better future for our homes, local environments and the global climate.
We are in this together. The other buzzword of the day was collaboration. The built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, a huge number and with that comes great responsibility. By collaborating better from the design stages through to practical completion an interdisciplinary approach can help in this drive for increased sustainability without compromising profitability.
Whole Life Carbon Roadmap
All of these points are outlined in greater detail in the UK Green Building Councils Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the Built Environment. We will be taking a closer look at all of this and takeways from COP26 in the new year but until then we wish you a very happy holiday season!
Designed by Freepik