Construction Must Set The Pace With Decarbonising The UK Economy

The built environment accounts for 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions. So, if we’re looking for somewhere to kickstart the drive towards decarbonising the UK economy, there are few better places to start.

The National Engineering Policy Centre – a partnership of 43 of the UK’s professional engineering organisations led by the Royal Academy of Engineering – recently produced a report calling on the UK construction sector to decarbonise in line with national emission reduction targets of 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035.

A net zero UK won’t become a reality without the construction sector playing a full and active part. Our role includes what we are building today as well as decarbonising existing assets. But given the scale of the climate crisis and the increase in extreme weather events around the world, it would probably surprise many people that just 2% of the new homes built in the UK currently achieve EPC A rating.

Part of the problem is that the residential sector is too wedded to tradition, both in the way that homes look and how they are built. Highly energy efficient homes are seen as a fringe activity rather than something that every developer is striving to achieve.

Policy Should Accelerate Decarbonising the UK Economy

There are, of course, policy issues that have to be resolved to encourage and incentivise change. But, as an industry, we also have to accept responsibility for the things we can do for ourselves. Perhaps we just need to be a bit bolder.

In our core markets of residential and education, Osborne is proud of our record in pioneering low carbon modern methods of construction. We founded our Innovaré offsite business over fifteen years ago having clearly seen a future of energy efficient buildings fabricated in a factory. It’s surprising how long it has taken for the sector to grasp this vision.

We are also working with specialist partners to deliver a full service zero carbon retrofit offer aimed at social housing providers. This is a tremendously exciting development for our business as it gives us a low carbon offer that spans new developments through our offsite and systemised housing products and existing housing stock through our retrofit programmes.

We’re 100% behind the National Engineering Policy Centre’s call for the construction sector to adopt ambitious decarbonisation targets. If the built environment is a large part of the problem, it stands to reason that the construction industry is a critical part of decarbonising the UK economy. Let’s step up to that challenge!

For more information about Osborne’s approach to decarbonising construction, contact Richard King (richard.king@osborne.co.uk).