Decarbonising the construction industry

Reducing carbon in the construction industry is a vitally important task. It is a complex issue as all processes and elements of the build environment need to be considered. The manufacture of building materials, their transportation, installation, use over time and potential redundancy can raise problems in reducing the lifetime carbon component of a development.

Some materials may be low carbon but if they need transporting long distances, they could have a higher carbon footprint than expected. Likewise with materials or goods that require the input of a multitude of contractors and sub-contractors. Monitoring and managing all the elements that go into a development is beyond the control of most contractors and developers, especially smaller ones.

A lot can be done such as ensuring the design team work with low carbon principles in mind in the design of the development so that it is not reliant on mechanical means for environmental control by using passive systems, selection of materials, low carbon structural solutions and have due regard for the longevity of materials and systems. Encouraging and facilitating the use of public transport and other sustainable transport systems.

It is important to continue to work hard to reduce carbon in construction if we are to realise the vital environmental, economic and social benefits of doing so.

Centre for Sustainable Energy