Low carbon objectives are not just political

Construction companies have reaffirmed their committment to carbon reduction because clients and end users want firms to show their green credentials.  

Despite fears that climate goals, and improving environmental standards would falter after the EU referendum, 75% of UK construction companies have affirmed their commitment to long-term environmental goals by actively participating in carbon reduction or low carbon strategies.

New research issued by TomTom Telematics reveals that not only is carbon reduction supported by government, but it is also supported by UK business strategy.

In addition to those now operating under a low carbon or carbon reduction strategy, it was found that currently 58 per cent of the 149 construction companies surveyed regularly monitor their carbon footprint, benchmarking this to show sustainable progress. 

This ‘green’ commitment was attributed, not to government initiatives, but to client demand, with 51% of construction operators stating that carbon emissions are required by clients as project key performance indicators. 

However, the preference is not from clients alone, as 74% of businesses consider environmental impact or green credentials when evaluating suppliers, creating business pressure at all levels for ‘green’ strategy. 

Providing further assurance of continued commitment to carbon reduction post EU membership, the UK government and the Scottish government have made clear that support of carbon reduction will continue. 

On 30 June secretary of state for energy and climate change Amber Rudd accepted the advice of UK government statutory climate advisers, establishing the UK as the first country to set legally binding carbon budgets aimed at carbon reduction within the Fifth Carbon Budget.

“Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security,” said Amber Rudd at the business climate summit the day before  the  Fifth Carbon Budget was released. “So while I think the UK’s role in dealing with a warming planet may have been made harder by the decision last Thursday, our commitment to dealing with it has not gone away,” Rudd said.

This will mean that energy efficiency and reduction of carbon will be high priorities for government in order to achieve the target of a 57% reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, based on 1990 levels.

On the 11 June, the Scottish government launched the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme  specifically to inspire commercial interests and investments in carbon reduction. This Scottish initiative comes alongside European offshore wind collaborations amounting to £7.9m, recent investments of £48m for innovative research in agricultural and environmental sectors, as well as a £70m pledge to achieve a circular economy.  All of which strengthens Scotland’s claim to be a low-carbon leader by making carbon reduction feasible for inclusion in business strategy. 

It is clear not only for government but for businesses alike that the construction industry will be a key economic sector for carbon reduction, with 95% of construction companies surveyed believing that the industry as a whole can do more. 

While government initiatives can ease the way, it is the added pressure within the construction sector that will ensure the change of business mindset necessary to achieve 2030 targets.