The recent climate change report has provided a sober assessment of our planet’s future. Here Chris Williams, MD of offsite experts Green Life Buildings, manufacturers, and suppliers of the GLB M2 advanced building system, discusses how the construction sector has the biggest part to play in hitting the Government’s net zero carbon 2050 target – and how it can achieve it.

The Climate Change report delivered by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has provided a stark reminder of where our planet is heading unless things drastically change.

Whether it’s heatwaves like the ones recently experienced in Greece and western North America, or floods like those in Germany and China, the report suggests “their attribution to human influence has strengthened” over the past decade, with the report “a code red for humanity.”

The Climate Change Act, as amended by Government in 2019, commits the UK to ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050. It’s an ambitious target, but it’s one we must strive for.

With construction accounting for around 40% of all carbon emissions in the UK, as a sector it becomes very important if the country is to hit the net zero target.

In a nutshell, as an industry we’ve got to get this right.

A need to build

The construction industry is continuing to grow but is facing challenges. The Prime Ministers promise to ‘Build, Build, Build’ our way to economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic and the need to hit the 300,000 properties a year that Britain is supposed to be building means that a solution needs to be sought so we can build sustainably and reduce the impact on the environment.

A zero-carbon economy will require energy-efficient manufacturing of building materials and energy-efficient structures, and the construction sector has opportunities over the short and long term to reduce carbon emissions through the choice of materials with a low environmental impact.

Going modern

It’s clear that offsite and modern methods of construction (MMC) will be a key player in driving emissions down if the sector is serious about playing its part.

The government has declared its preference for offsite construction as a model to speed up the delivery of housing and for its sustainable building methods which will be pivotal if the country is to meet the zero carbon emissions 2050 target.

Compared to traditional building methods, MMC can reduce operational energy use and the carbon associated with it. The quality control of a factory process delivers more certainty of achieving the required performance levels with low U values, integrity of insulation, and minimal air leakage.

MMC also reduces the embodied carbon in the construction process due to reduced levels of transportation of materials and personnel required and limiting landfill of waste products.

Whole life carbon

Assessing a buildings whole-life carbon emissions, from its construction, maintenance and use is crucial to hitting future carbon targets.

A systems embodied carbon can be less using MMC than that of a traditionally built home, but once constructed it needs to be able to reduce the occupants carbon footprint during its entire lifecycle.

With energy-efficient manufacturing of building materials and energy-efficient structures, we can reduce carbon emissions and hit the 2050 target, which is good for people, and good for the planet. It’s a daunting task, but one that is attainable if we get our act together now.

The GLB M2 advanced panelised building system can provide ready shaped panels for a quick install and the ability to make easy changes on site if needed. It is quicker, greener, and cheaper than traditional alternatives. For more information, visit www.greenlife-manufacturing.co.uk.

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