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Sustainable Supply Chain Legislation Should be Introduced

A panel of industry experts gathered last month, May 2021, to discuss how the construction industry can and will meet zero emissions targets.

There was a clear message that the opportunity to reach the net zero target is there; however, more support is required from the Government for this to cascade at pace throughout the industry.

Support in the form of legislation and incentives around Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) was outlined as the driving factor for real change in the construction industry. With Government support, a clear path forward will become apparent rather than developers scrambling to make this a reality at the final hour.

This legislation must be brought forward in the form of ensuring the building materials that are used in construction are renewable and sustainable.

Cement contributes 8% to the overall 40% of the carbon emissions in the construction industry. Timber is an obvious renewable alternative that is a regulated building material, with many homes in the UK constructed with timber frame.

80% of new build homes in Scotland currently are timber frame, and the Welsh Government has committed to all affordable housing being built with timber frame by next year. The industry panel was unanimous in agreeing that the kind of leadership seen in Wales is what is needed across the board.

Panellist Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA), said: “There has never been a better time to change how we build our homes in the UK. The pandemic has given us time to stop and consider our industry’s impact and as the world regains some normality, we, as an industry, should want to move forward rather than simply returning to how we have always done things, as it is clear from the figures that this is devastating the planet.”

“There are two things that will drive this forward and two things that will drive the change. The former is a collaborative culture and an integrated supply chain. The latter, regulation and legislation from the Government, and housebuilders getting on board with the larger vision. MMC is the answer to achieving a carbon neutral construction industry.”

Richard Swayne, Managing Director of Paramount Timber Group, noted: “Legislation will give the industry clear direction as to how exactly we will move forward to meet the Government’s targets; but in order to change the mindsets of the decision makers in the industry, this needs to be incentivised.

“The benefits of building with timber frame are widely known. If the Government is truly behind building back greener, then buildings constructed from timber frame should be subsidised or at the very least incentivised.”

With a traditionally fragmented industry, the panel called for all sectors within construction to come together to inform a collaborative approach to really move towards carbon neutrality.

The last 12 months have been a time of reflection for many, with industries across the globe forced to pause and take stock of their impact on the planet. With the Government’s net zero by 2035 initiative, such reflection is vital for the construction industry.

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