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Construction sector needs 'radical change' to tackle climate crisis, industry leaders warn

‘Radical change’ to the construction industry is needed to help the UK meet its target of 2050 zero carbon target, a new report warns.

The construction industry is a major contributor to the UK's carbon emissions. Credit: PA

Experts from Nottingham City Council and EvoEnergy, which is based in Beeston, have joined forces with others across the country to draw up recommendations for how the sector can transform the way it works.

In a stark warning at the opening of the report, the group’s chair Mark Wakeford said: "In less than a generation, building and construction will have changed beyond all recognition.

"Anyone not preparing for this right now faces extinction."

Government figures have shown that construction is the largest contributor to the UK’s carbon emissions, directly accounting for 10% of those produced and influencing 47%, along with creating 61% of waste.

It comes after research published in the Nature journal in July warned that the global temperature is rising faster than at any point in the past 2,000 years.

And last week, scientists and academics from across the Midlands joined more than 11,000 others around the world in signing a letter warning of the "untold human suffering" if urgent action is not taken.

Power is one of the major areas identified for improvement. Credit: PA

Gordon Thomson, the director of commercial infrastructure and energy at Nottingham City Council, said that considerations over carbon needed to be at the heart of every decision.

Carbon and sustainability needs to be inherent in everything we do.

It is much easier to factor in to design, inception and planning stages rather than during retrofit down the line.

We are embedding carbon implications in everything that we do, in all our decisions: planning, procurement, strategy.

– Gordon Thomson, Nottingham City Council

The report, entitled Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon Future, was launched today (Monday 11th) by the National Federation of Builders’ Major Contractors Group (MCG).

Plastic pollution continues to be a huge environmental issue. Credit: PA

"The year 2050 might seem a long time away but it’s really not much time to radically change our industry," he added upon the report's publication.

"Anyone still operating the same way as they are today in 20 years’ time will be lucky to still be in business.

"The report we are launching today is a call-to-arms, we’re telling the government and the industry alike to wake up to the reality of zero carbon and act now."

He said government and industry leaders needed to partner up to take action.

The report also outlines areas where improvements can be made, including flood defences, power and transport.

Transport is another area which could be improved. Credit: PA

Nottingham City Council and EvoEnergy contributed, along with the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Confederation of British Industry, and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

“We've got three areas of focus: first, we need to eliminate carbon emissions from construction operations,” Richard Bayliss, from the CITB, said.

“Secondly, we need to industrialise production, embracing digital construction and pre manufacture.

“Finally, we need to support the development of a workforce to deliver a major programme of energy efficiency improvement to decarbonise the UK's building stock.”

The full report can be found here.