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Cutting through the greenwashing in construction

With the construction industry under pressure to cut emissions to help the government meet its net zero ambitions, the practice of ‘greenwashing’ is becoming visible in the sector.

To help deal with this, leading procurement contract provider NEC has announced a new X29 secondary Option clause to its NEC4 suite of contracts, which will be used to support, incentivise and tangibly demonstrate carbon reduction initiatives on future builds across the sector.

Research from the CMA across all sectors found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading.

Greenwashing can come in the form of long-term commitments made by businesses to achieve net neutrality, but announcements often lack tangible commitments, and the sector has seen a rise in unsubstantiated and questionable net-zero carbon claims.

As the most widely used contract suite by the construction industry, NEC hopes the adoption of the new secondary option clause update will enable tangible sustainability and net-zero commitments between clients and suppliers.

NEC4 Contract Board Member Ian Heaphy, and Stacey Collins, Major Projects Partner & Climate Change Specialist, at global law firm Pinsent Masons LLP, will host a Climate Cause Webinar in early April to discuss the secondary option consultation with the community, along with an audience Q&A to enable attendees to best understand how the Option is intended to operate in practice.

Ian said: “Achieving net-zero emissions and sustainable outcomes is one of the top issues the sector must address. It is principally a technical issue that can be addressed in the scope, however there is now a growing view that standard contract conditions can be applied, to further support the reduction of carbon emissions in built assets and this is why the NEC has developed this new secondary Option.”

“Although the industry is already doing a lot, we feel a contract approach can help to formalise standards within the industry and create a level playing field for greater accountability. The new secondary option will enable the incentivisation of net-zero and make it a legal obligation for parties to deliver impact.”

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