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Category: Low Carbon Construction (page 2 of 2)

Cost of Carbon: “What was a carrot will now become a stick”

So are we prepared yet for the tranistion to a low carbon economy in the built environment?

Accouncements this week from the UK Government regarding targets for carbon reduction will affect all aspects of energy use, conservation and management. With the built environment contributing to 40% of CO2 emissions the imapct on design, material production, tranport construction and more will be very significant.

Facilities Management and the way we use buildings will most likely be the sector of the built environment to be profoundly affected. Whether the FM sector can rise to the occasion is another question, and one now being debated in FM forums, circles and events. See my thoughts on CSR Wire Talkback

Indications from the recent Facilities Show in Birmingham (my own questioning of the exhibitors) suggests carbon measurement is just not on many FM providers agenda as yet

Can we be ready for such a dramatic tranistion, which as Derek Deighton explained is a 13 times reduction – a huge undertaking. And its not as if we havent had time to prepare in the last decade or so. Indeed as John Elkington highlighted ‘since Brundtland in 1987 we are still jollying along and still delighting in green or sustainable innovations’

What lies ahead in relation to the tranistion for businesses to a low carbon economy has been wonderfully summed up and explained in the May edition of  the Director in the Green Path to Growth article by Alison Coleman:

The UK has pledged to make deep cuts in carbon emissions by 2050. But as new sustainability rules bite, what are the duties of businesses? …

Britain is committed to massive carbon cuts, and whether businesses subscribe to green principles or not, they will be expected to play a key role. The Climate Change Act 2008 set a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, which assumes energy efficiency savings of around two per cent per annum for the next 40 years. That’s a big ask.

Although many companies are implementing green operating policies and achieving environmental management standards, the business contribution to the target is being driven by myriad carbon-related sustainability rules. Yet many organisations have yet to understand the cost of compliance

and as to the cost of carbon? …

Tony Rooke, sustainability practice leader at IT services provider Logica, says: “What was a carrot will now become a stick, and with the carbon price set at £12 per tonne of carbon emitted, it could add up to eight per cent to an organisation’s energy costs. What it will do is encourage them to minimise that impact by monitoring energy consumption more closely, and redoubling their efforts to reduce it and avoid waste.

it of course makes good sense:

Alan McGill, a partner in the environmental reporting practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Forget the green agenda and just apply the commercial principles. There are lots of companies looking at operational opportunities to take carbon out and bring benefits to the business.”

People get ready, there’s a CO2  train a comin’ You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board”  With apologies to Curtis Mayfield

I have often said the built environment is a fascinating and great sector to be involved with – and now as we realise the carbon train is a-coming and we see its time to get on board, the journey could get a lot more interesting!

Thoughts?

This article originally appear on the fairsnape isite blog

 

Low carbon diet for construction boards

Question:  who on your board is really championing sustainability and the low carbon agenda?

Board members, as Lucy Marcus reminded us at construcTALKs last month, need to balance continuity with change, to embrace changes in technology with established, proven ways ….

From my experience in (small-medium) construction organisations boards are perhaps too focused on looking back at performance, rather than forwards, and when looking forward tend to do so with the risk-eye of past problems.  And sustainability, only discussed when necessary, as part of a ISOO 14001, project, incident issue.

Too often, as 14001 sits with Health and Safety, sustainability takes a back seat.  Rarely construction boards view sustainability in its widest sense as a critical strategic, opportunity issue, but simply one to be dealt with at project level.

Yet the world is moving forward, and increasingly so towards a low carbon environment and economy. Only those with proven performance and attitude of low carbon approaches may well survive.

All the more reason to have board members to champion change. Non execs tend to provide an independent financial and governance role, but increasingly they should drive the organisation towards change, and give direction towards a low carbon construction economy.

To quote from Lucy, boards need to be both Grounded and Stargazers.

Are construction boards so grounded they go underground? Or do they at least from time to time stand on a hill and gaze the stars to wonder and then to understand what is out there?

Comments appreciated ….

A Low Carb Diet for Construction?

This blog, through regular thought pieces from myself (Martin Brown) along with guest bloggers + thought leaders is aimed at generating discussions on moving towards a low carbon construction and built environment sector.

Setting the Scene

There is a buzz, and indeed confusion over carbon management in the built environment at the moment. We have the Zero Carbon Hub (as a quango) given a stay of execution to redefine ‘zero carbon’ albeit in the housing sector but will have implications for non domestic projects too.

We have Paul Morrell pushing the importance of carbon management, referring to cash as king but carbon must be the queen. (Introduction to the Construction and Innovation Growth Team final report.) (Note this report proposes a Low Carbon Construction Business Plan)

There is, according to  Sustain recent paper  embodied carbon, a look forward insight report much uncertainty over design predictions of carbon emissions from facilities and building in use.

The focus for carbon management has until recently been only concerned with the design and use of buildings, rather than the construction process of building or refurbishment.

But it is here that it makes sense to focus on carbon reduction, for if we do so we focus on waste in lean construction sense, but particularly wasted energy. Every kilogram of carbon saved on site has a corresponding saving, either to the contractor or to the project. No wonder then in a recent copy of APM Magazine article mentions carbon as one of the future key performance indicators for construction project management.

Understanding Construction Carbon

There is little evidence to date, or indeed little understanding of the level of carbon emissions from a construction project. Possibly leading the field is constructco2 which with over some 50 projects is showing a level of 96kg per £1000 project value. To put this into perspective one party balloon, I am told, would hold about 10 grammes of CO2. ( I tried to understand this in more detail on my own blog here)

Thats a lot of party balloons.

The Strategy for Sustainable Construction has set a target to reduce emissions by 15% based on 2008 levels. This is some tough call, meaning 15% reduction in material and waste transportation and in personel travel, along with a reduction, or improved performance of plant and energy use, and an holistic resource review.

In the words of Egan, we need a rethink on the way we build and refurb: a lean thinking approach. We cannot address a real reduction in carbon with the same thinking that created the current high energy situation we find ourselves in.

Over to you

What are you doing to measure or improve your construction based carbon emissions?

What innovations are you aware of to improve carbon performance though alternative energy or working methods.

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