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The Construction Industry and Climate Change

Last week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a dire warning on climate change and a code red for humanity. This has led to rising sea levels, wildfires across the planet, and change in temperatures that has been widespread. All is not lost though, and in the construction industry, there are calls to make changes to help make a difference.

Calls For Change in Construction

Roughly two years prior to this announcement, the World Green Building Council released their vision of the construction industry reaching “40% less embodied carbon emissions by 2030, and achieve 100% net zero emissions buildings by 2050.” They shared in this announcement that the construction industry is responsible for 39% of carbon dioxide emissions, making it clear that there is room for improvement in the industry and work to be done.

Also at the forefront of tackling climate change within construction is The Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which in 2011 created the Green Construction Board. The main purpose of this initiative is to advise on “the regulatory, policy and technical framework required to deliver a zero-carbon, zero-waste built environment (both buildings and infrastructure).” The group is also hoping to pinpoint ideas and opportunities that a “clean growth, zero carbon, zero waste economy requires.”

In the last month, they shared some new ideas with 10 commitments to confront climate change within the construction sector. These commitments include tasks in the next few years such as low-carbon heating solutions in all new buildings by 2025, to delivering retrofitting to 27.3 million homes by 2040. Not only have they set out these commitments to improving the welfare of our environment, but they’re making sure that the industry and their commitments are held accountable by having metrics in place, with a plan to release the results quarterly.

Material Changes

The initiatives from the CLC and World Green Building Council are just a few of the many initiatives being discussed within the industry. Another comes from Highways England who is aiming to make their highway construction and maintenance work net-zero by 2040. Their goal will mainly be reached through the materials used on their projects being near or net-zero.

The materials used may pose an issue for the entire industry overall. The production of Portland cement, for example, “emits up to 622kg of carbon dioxide” which makes up 7% of the global anthropogenic carbon.

Securing Our Future

Numbers like these are certainly cause for concern, but many within construction are taking the call to arms seriously to secure our future. However, everyone at every level within the construction industry will need to work together going forward to ensure change is made – from holding commitments to account to changing the way materials are made.

We can even look to make small differences by finding a job closer to home if possible or ensuring there are opportunities for recycling on-site. If you have any ideas about what can be done on-site, we’d love to hear them! You can email us at or contact your account manager today to share your thoughts.

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