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Lack of clarity on sustainability impacting the construction industry’s green push

The UK construction industry’s capability to achieve net zero targets is being hindered by the government’s lack of clarity around sustainability policy and standards, research by consultant Currie & Brown has found.

Policy shifts, such as the delays to climate policies announced by the government in September, risk reducing industry confidence in its roadmap to net zero and investment momentum in green solutions.

Adam Mactavish, global director, Sustainability, said: “Extending targets can help relieve pressure on the construction industry and property sector.

“However, a question mark hangs over the necessity of these delays, in particular reducing obligations on landlords to improve energy efficiency will mean that occupiers and the nation remain more exposed to future energy price shocks.

“Surely it is right to reduce demand now, rather than subsidise avoidable consumption into the future.”

Adding to this policy uncertainty, the industry is challenged by multiple standards for, and definitions of, net zero, which are causing confusion and inefficiencies.

Indeed, Currie & Brown has identified at least a dozen different standards for zero carbon buildings developed by different national bodies.

There are also many more regional and local standards, and other related standards for energy and wider sustainability.

The report proposes that to move forward and effectively drive progress towards decarbonisation targets, the construction industry must work collaboratively to develop a common approach.

For its part, the industry has already begun investing significant time and resources into creating solutions that align with policy goals – with progress evident in the UK net zero carbon buildings standard.

Nick Gray, chief operating officer, UK and Europe, said: “The lack of clarity on sustainability policy and standards is a significant challenge for the UK construction industry. However, it also presents an opportunity for organisations to take a leading role in developing solutions and driving progress towards decarbonisation targets.

“Collaboration and coalescing around a common approach will be key to success. This in turn should give the Government confidence in its ambitions and roadmap – and ultimately, enable both the industry, and the UK as a whole, to achieve its net zero targets.”