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The UK construction landscape is undergoing a profound transformation, with sustainability emerging as a pivotal focal point. Recent reports indicate that 25% of the UK’s carbon emissions are attributed to the built environment, signalling an urgent need for radical changes in how construction projects are approached and managed.

However, despite the pressing need for sustainable solutions, the industry faces multifaceted challenges, notably the proliferation of diverse definitions and standards for achieving net zero in buildings. With over a dozen national definitions of zero carbon and numerous regional and local variations, the current landscape is marked by complexity and fragmentation.

This complexity not only contributes to confusion but also poses barriers to achieving the desired level of sustainability. It is evident that this lack of clarity around sustainability policy and standards is impeding the industry’s capability to achieve net zero targets.

Adam Mactavish, Global Director, Sustainability at Currie & Brown, emphasises the potential ramifications of policy shifts and delays in climate policies announced by the Government in September. While extending targets might alleviate immediate pressure, uncertainties around reduced obligations on landlords to enhance energy efficiency could lead to increased vulnerability to future energy price shocks.

Mactavish asserts, “Reducing demand now seems imperative rather than subsidising avoidable consumption in the future.”

One major obstacle identified by Currie & Brown is the existence of myriad standards for zero carbon buildings, causing confusion and inefficiencies within the industry. To overcome this, the report suggests a unified, collaborative approach within the construction sector.

Nick Gray, Chief Operating Officer, UK and Europe, highlights the importance of collaboration and a unified strategy in tackling sustainability challenges. He emphasises that such alignment will not only empower the industry but also in still confidence in the Government’s roadmap to achieving net zero.

“The lack of clarity on sustainability policy and standards is a significant challenge, yet it presents an opportunity for proactive organisations to lead in developing solutions,” Gray remarks.

In summary, collaboration and a consolidated effort towards a common approach will be instrumental in surmounting the hurdles posed by diverse standards and policy uncertainties. This collective effort can pave the way for achieving ambitious decarbonisation targets and ensuring a sustainable future for the UK construction industry.

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