The role of construction in achieving a low-carbon built environment
An Industry Leaders' Group Guide



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Low carbon - Organisational perspective
Miles Watkins and Shamir Ghumra, Aggregate Industries 

From an organisational perspective carbon management has many facets some of which are simple mechanisms and others are more complex and interact with other parts of an organisation such as procurement, operations and strategy. There are clear policy drivers coming from UK Government and the EU that have direct impacts on an organisation, which are the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRCEES)
  1. Climate Change Agreements (CCA)
  2. EU Emission Trading Scheme (EUETS)
  3. Other measures include incentives such as the Feed In Tariffs (FITS)
  4. Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
  5. While these create a reservoir of policy and compliance issues they also represent the scale and significance of the carbon management issue. At the time of writing a DEFRA consultation on the mandatory nature of green house gas (GHG) reporting for companies was being circulated for comment
  6. The appetite for carbon information is growing from all parts of the supply chain and an organisation needs to be aware of its surroundings to better inform senior management about the strategy to make.
This briefing will initially present the systems and structure to deliver carbon management, the key challenges faced in implementing such an approach and notes some of the principal developments taking place. The briefing concludes with a case study on Aggregate Industries’ carbon management programme and in particular the energy efficiency workshops delivered by the Carbon Trust

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Low carbon - a clients perspective

Patrick Brown, British Property Federation

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, Sustainable Construction and Buildings Initiative has suggested that the built environment through its construction and use, accounts for 40 per cent of global energy use, 30 per cent of raw materials use and 20 per cent of water use. Commercial property accounts for just under half of these totals.

All property and in particular domestic and non-domestic buildings are an important part in both the problem of and solution to growing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their mitigation.

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Low carbon buildings - refurbishment 

Andy Ford, Mott MacDonald 

The energy efficiency of the UK’s existing building stock is poor, with non-domestic buildings alone contributing 18 per cent of the UK’s total carbon emissions2. Embodied carbon in a typical building is equivalent to 10 to 15 years of its in use emissions, so in theory demolition and replacement with energy and carbon neutral buildings could deliver major long-term reductions. However, current rates of demolition and reconstruction in the UK suggest that it would take 400 years to replace the nation’s badly performing building stock. Although the renewal rate is a lot faster in the commercial and industrial sectors, more than 70 per cent of these buildings are expected to last well beyond 2050.

So, while acting to limit the embodied carbon associated with new materials, urgent action is needed to reduce operational carbon emitted by existing buildings. This involves a combination of pragmatic changes in the way buildings are used and managed alongside a massive programme of “deep green refurbishment”.

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Low carbon buildings by design - new build 
Dan Phillips and Mark Dowson, Buro Happold

Low carbon buildings provide healthy, productive and comfortable environments for home, work and play. They work in harmony with the natural world, are low carbon in construction and operation, accessible and flexible so that they have a long life and can be re-configured rather than dismantled as needs change.

Ultimately a low carbon building is only of value if it delivers real social needs and improves the physical environment in which it is built. To achieve these objectives requires vision, collaboration and commitment throughout the development process.

This briefing focuses on delivering low carbon buildings through the process of planning, design, construction and operation, highlighting the relationship between user need, physical form, intelligent systems and renewable technologies, together with the importance of teamwork and collaboration between the client, the delivery team and other stakeholders.

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Low carbon infrastructure capital works and refurbishment opportunities

Tim Broyd, Kate Young and Steve Faulkner
Halcrow Group Limited, a CH2M Hill company


With the noted correlation between investment in infrastructure and long-term economic growth, it is prudent that the UK Government is committed to strongly supporting investment in economic infrastructure sectors (energy, transport, waste, flood, science, water and telecoms) over the next five years (estimated to be around 30% of the total £200bn identified need). Given the current economic climate, it is also reassuring that their focus is on making the best of existing assets through smart maintenance and use, before investment in large scale capital projects. This investment presents an opportunity, not only to increase the resilience and security of infrastructure, but also to move the UK towards its carbon reduction targets – targets that are now a legal obligation.

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Interested in getting involved?
Contact Owen Jenkins for more information.

Project sponsors:

        

CIRIA and BIS would like to thank these individuals for their
time and expertise in reviewing the briefings