We are all subjected to daily stories about the impact of climate change, the polluting effect of waste materials (especially plastic waste), we hear concerns over water availability, flood risks, biodiversity loss, and importantly we now recognise the impact that this is already having on our environment. This is leading to direct action from popular movements such as extinction rebellion and a positive change in the political fortunes of Green parties around Europe. Perhaps the most influential voice is Greta Thunberg’s, the 16 year old Swede who is telling decision makers to wake up and act now, because we already have the means at our disposal to stop the destruction of our planet, we simply need the will to act. Greta Thunberg – The Disarming Case to Act Right Now on Climate
If we are going to respond to this call for action, we all need to make a fundamental shift in how we live our lives. These changes will create many positive opportunities for businesses to develop and deploy new and existing technologies, products and services that will be needed to address the great challenges already faced by society.
The aim of the Green Construction Board is to advance and accelerate the delivery of green buildings and infrastructure in a resource efficient way, creating outcomes that are energy efficient, water efficient and low in carbon, safe and fit for purpose and flexible to meet the changing needs of society and climatic conditions.
The Board works closely with government to advise on the regulatory and policy framework and on the research and actions required to overcome the challenges. We want this work to open up commercial opportunities, create new jobs, requiring new skills that if pursued with urgency will give UK businesses competitive advantage over global rivals. Then we need to ensure that industry has all the knowledge, skills and standards that it requires to deliver.
Since March 2018, we have refreshed our activities so they align with the Sector Deal, the Clean Growth Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan. We identified some gaps in our Board and have appointed experts on skills, facilities management, a major contractor, and a manufacturer. We now have a wide range of organisations from across the construction supply chain working with us, including clients, design engineers, architects, manufacturers, professional bodies, trade associations, major contractors, consultancies and research organisations to help us to champion the sustainability message.
In 2018-19, we set up two new work streams:
Buildings Energy Mission – working with BEIS and MHCLG – to respond to the government’s Grand Challenge Buildings Mission to ‘to halve the energy use of new builds by 2030’.
The group have delivered a series of recommendations and an accompanying background report, using case studies and research by consultants Julie Godefroy and Etude to prove that reducing energy use in new builds by 50% is already possible. We held a successful launch event for the report at the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), sponsored by IET, BRE and the Active Buildings Centre in Swansea. You can read the full report here.
Next steps for the group will look toward the retrofit agenda, using their technical expertise to feed in to work in this space by the Transforming Construction Programme.
Resources and Waste – working with Defra and BEIS – to contribute to the chapter on construction in the Resources & Waste Strategy, published by Defra in December 2018.
The group was established to create an interpretation of ‘Zero Avoidable Waste in Construction’ and subsequently a route map by 2020 on how to get there.
With a Scoping Study and the interpretation finalised and signed off by senior officials, it is set for publication in the coming weeks, and we look forward to the next steps toward the route map from the group.
A third workstream, set up pre-2018, covers Infrastructure and is active in the promotion of low carbon management in infrastructure projects.
As Chair of the Green Construction Board, I’d like to thank the members of these work streams for delivering such important documents that contribute to the government’s thinking on these important matters. I am proud to be part of a group that is championing the delivery of a more environmentally sustainable construction agenda, which is fundamental to the UK achieving its clean growth [and net zero] goals. It is a privilege to work with industry experts with such a wealth of knowledge, and also the vision and passion to deliver a future with zero carbon buildings and a cleaner environment.
We can look forward to the year ahead, helping to steer the construction industry towards a resource efficient, sustainable and low carbon future.
Chair, Green Construction Board
CEO, Baxi Heating UK Ltd