Net zero is the only option

29th July, 2020

~ Inspiring transformational change in the built environment supply chain ~

In summer 2019, the UK Government committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. While 30 years seems like a long time, we must make the fundamental changes to reduce emissions now. Here Martin Hurn, event director at net zero pioneer Futurebuild, explains how the built environment industry can tackle our generation’s greatest challenge — the climate and ecological crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our personal lives, as well as shaken up industry and the economy. The Government has taken steps to return us to a form of normality and encourage economic growth. As part of this, it has launched a “green recovery” initiative, to create thousands of jobs, improve energy efficiency and conserve natural resources. If we play our cards right, green recovery and net zero carbon could come hand in hand.

The current state of the industry
Construction and the built environment accounts for almost 45 per cent of total UK carbon emissions and 80 per cent of those emissions are associated with use of existing buildings.

There is no time to waste when it comes to improving the energy efficiency of private and public infrastructure because, according to research, 85 per cent of the infrastructure we’ll have in 2050 will have been built by 2030. In other words, to achieve net zero by 2050, we must act now.

The Government’s contribution
The Chancellor’s recent announcement of £3bn in funding will be allocated to reducing emissions generated by a portion of current public infrastructure and housing. For example, homeowners can receive up to £5,000 in grants to make renovations to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

The funding brings us closer to the UK’s target of net zero by 2050, but is it enough to transform the industry? The announced figure falls far behind our European counterparts; Germany has committed £36bn and France £13.5bn. A Green Alliance think tank report suggests that the Government must spend an extra £14 billion a year on conservation, transport and buildings to meet its targets.

Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, said the green homes grant was a good “stepping stone … but not yet a green recovery”. We tend to agree. So, what can we as an industry do to inspire change beyond green recovery?

What happens next?
To achieve real transformational change, the entire supply chain must work together. We must unite manufacturers, architects and specifiers and empower them to make a difference. With effective communication throughout the supply chain, manufacturers have the power to transform the industry — it is their products that drive our green infrastructure capabilities.

If we are to meet net zero emissions by 2050 — and we must — we need a catalyst for change. For over ten years, Futurebuild, previously Ecobuild, has dedicated itself to being just that. The annual event brings together over 20,500 industry influencers to debate ideas, showcase products and drive real change across the built environment. We need change now, and we must act together.

If you have a technology or solution that can help our transform industry, net zero carbon needs you. Register your interest to exhibit at Futurebuild 2021 here.

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