As the climate crisis continues to pose a threat, the built environment is experiencing an increased pressure to publicly commit to achieving Net-Zero.
With the industry battling the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic including projects put on hold, decreased demand for commercial buildings, and disrupted project margins, it can be daunting to even consider committing to a Net-Zero strategy at this time.
With this in mind, we recently hosted a discussion panel on Net-Zero in construction with representatives from some of the industry’s most pioneering organisations in the sustainability space. This discussion addressed how to best commit to Net-Zero, how to get your whole organisation onboard, best practices to reduce carbon, and plenty more.
The panel was chaired by Qflow’s CEO, Brittany Harris, and joined by the following speakers:
- Joshua Davies, Sustainability Manager, Multiplex Construction
- David Mason, Environment Technical Director, Skanska UK
- Andy Haigh, Senior Sustainability Manager, Canary Wharf Contractors
- Kat Ibbotson, Programme Carbon and Cost Manager, Environment Agency
These organisations are at the forefront of public Net-Zero commitments and share some fantastic strategies for how to get started on this journey. If you weren’t able to catch the webinar, here are the top 3 pieces of advice that came out of the discussion:
1. Warm people up!
A Net-Zero commitment comes with inevitable change. Your business needs to be warmed up to this change. That’s why engaging with internal stakeholders early is critical to get all teams onboard. Remember, this is not just a task for the Environment/Sustainability team. This is something that all teams need to be aligned with. Joshua Davies stressed the importance of outlining the change for leaders in each department and prompting them to think how each of them can collaborate in line with the organisation’s mission. On a similar note, David Mason suggests making people take ownership of the change further supports the success of a Net-Zero strategy.
Similarly, it’s critical to involve your supply chain early in the process too. If you leave it too late it puts too much pressure on the supply chain and they won’t be able to deliver. This is a collaborative process and it’s important to collaborate with all stakeholders. To learn more about engaging the supply chain, go check out the Supply Chain Sustainability School.
2. Data is vital
Andy Haigh highlighted that “a data strategy is key to getting this [Net Zero] right.” To make the right decisions, you need proactive, high quality data. If there is no data to evidence decisions, it’s as good as a guess! However, as highlighted by Kat Ibbotson, it’s important to remember that increased data capture can add a tremendous burden to the admin teams involved. This is an area where construction technology can provide support by easing the data burden while providing more proactive and granular data.
As the majority of the emissions come from Scope 3, it is important to also encourage data capture and sharing across your supply chain. Transparency has become increasingly important and it is crucial to understand that one company cannot achieve Net-Zero alone — so how can you get your suppliers onboard your sustainable journey? As mentioned earlier, engaging the supply chain from the beginning is a good first step.
3. Low carbon = low cost
There is a misconception that reducing carbon and committing to Net-Zero will increase project costs and disrupt margins. This is not necessarily the case. In simple terms, if you are more resource efficient you will be more cost efficient AND reduce carbon. As mentioned by Andy Haigh, before you start looking at procuring modern low carbon materials, take a good look at your processes and make sure you are as efficient as possible. This is where you will make the biggest cost and carbon savings. Once that is under control, only then should you look into using new materials such as low carbon concrete. Remember, as stressed by David Mason, the earlier you get started to engage the wider organisation and the more strategic you are, the bigger the potential gains are.
This was a great webinar that offered a lot of good insights from the experience of some of the UK’s leading construction companies. If you missed the event, you can watch the full recording of it here.
The webinar generated some really interesting post event discussions and we’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well! If you have any questions or want to add your thoughts and ideas, please reach out to us here!
Supply Chain Sustainability School
Inventory for embodied carbon – ICE
United methodology – PAS 2080
ERIC – Carbon Planning Tool by Environment Agency
Qualis Flow – Automated data collection and analysis