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"Quantum change" needed to achieve low carbon constructionFebruary 2011

Low Carbon Construction can be downloaded from the BIS website (see link in the main content).

Construction leaders have spoken: lack of clear leadership, over-complexity in carbon reduction policies, and a failure of government departments and the building industry to work together, are hampering attempts to de-carbonise construction.

The findings of Low Carbon Construction, a collaborative report by the construction industry on its environmental status, say a "quantum change" in behaviour is needed to meet the commitments of the Climate Change Act.

Authored by the Innovation and Growth Team (IGT), a group drawn from across the UK construction industry, Low Carbon Construction recommends a series of plans that will "cascade from national to local to individual business and customer level."

These plans need to "cut through the problem of complexity and confusing language in every aspect of the landscape relating to carbon reduction," says the IGT.

Among its raft of recommendations, the IGT call for a new organisation, "that can act as an effective knowledge network for the capture and exchange of lessons learned [and] accredit the energy performance and wider sustainability credentials of major projects."

The IGT has called on the Treasury to introduce into the Green Book a requirement to conduct whole-life carbon appraisals. This will require, says the IGT, a standard method of measuring embodied carbon.

A published strategy is also required for each Government department to produce low carbon buildings of each typology, says the IGT. The report also calls for the merger between Asset Skills, Construction Skills and Summit Skills, "so that integration is reflected in the skills regime."

"We cannot wait for a global climate change deal" Nobuo Tanaka

The IGT report singled out Soft Landings for special mention. "Government and the industry should routinely embed the principles of Soft Landings into their contracts and processes," said the report.

The Government is expected to respond to the IGT report in April via the chief construction advisor, Paul Morrell.

The International Energy Agency's Executive Director, Nobuo Tanaka, caused a stir at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi by claiming that a lack of ambition in the Copenhagen Accord pledges has increased the estimated cost of reaching the 2ºC goal by USD1 trillion. Lack of agreement "has undoubtedly made it less likely that the goal will actually be achieved," said Tanaka.

"We cannot wait for a global climate deal," he added. "[We need] a phenomenal policy push by governments around the world. Countries must act now to achieve a secure and cleaner energy future."