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Net Zero Now: SCAPE and leading construction partners call on UK Government to make public procurement greener


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Along with 16 of the UK’s largest construction and consultancy firms, SCAPE are lobbying for change in public procurement legislation to make newly commissioned buildings such as schools, offices and leisure centres designed around net zero carbon-first principles.

In an open letter to the Construction Minister, Lee Rowley MP, Industry leaders including Arcadis, Ashe Group, Fairhurst, Faithful & Gould, G F Tomlinson, Jeakins Weir, John Sisk & Son, Lindum Group, Mace, McLaughlin & Harvey, Morgan Sindall, Perfect Circle, Seddo, Sweco UK, and Willmott Dixon have called for traditional industry approaches to procurement and build to be radically overhauled.

The letter's signatories argue that whole life carbon assessments should be made a statutory requirement for the delivery of new-build and refurbishment projects in the public sector, with decisions based on the lifecycle carbon of the building or infrastructure project, not cost.

Project teams basing decisions on cost alone are inhibiting low carbon construction, according to the group.

Data gathered here at SCAPE suggests that the payback period from the operational savings created by sustainable building design is as little as six years on average, with only a marginal increase in capital cost.

Carbon-led collaboration across the supply chain is pivotal to ensure the next generation of public sector buildings and infrastructure set new standards for achieving a sustainable future.

The firms involved act as delivery partners within SCAPE and SCAPE Scotland’s construction, consultancy and civil engineering frameworks, covering £18bn worth of public sector projects to be delivered in the next five years.

Our frameworks are used by more than 1,200 public bodies across the UK and incorporate dedicated tools to help organisations procure projects in a way that meets their sustainability and climate ambitions.

To support the public sector in delivering the government’s net zero targets by 2050, we have developed a dedicated Net Zero website navigation tool which explains how to access the guidance required.

Tackling carbon intensity across the public estate has become mission critical. As a leading voice for the public sector and in collaboration with our construction and consultancy partners, we have a duty to forge an industry-led response to tackle the environmental challenges we currently face."

Mark Robinson

Group Chief Executive | SCAPE

He continues;

"The Construction Playbook represents the first building block to achieving a low-carbon future and we want to work with the minister to help further its aims and ambitions by setting new statutory obligations within UK procurement legislation.

“Achieving this doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel – a lot of the immediate answers are hiding in plain sight. We must work together as an industry to rethink our traditional approaches and ensure that net zero carbon is considered an integral part of our decision-making process.

“The government plays a huge role in delivering this change and by working together to share best practices, we firmly believe that we can deliver on the commitment to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.”

To significantly reduce harm to the environment, our focus is on how we can help empower individuals and customers to make a meaningful contribution reducing carbon in construction operations. This starts with knowledge."

Louise Townsend

Director of Social Value and Sustainability, Morgan Sindall

Louise continues, "By supporting stakeholders to understand the impacts of their actions and identifying alternative solutions, we can make rapid and meaningful decisions to help protect and enhance the planet for future generations. Whole Life Carbon assessments are fundamental to this in uncovering where the carbon rests and sharing the responsibility of its removal through intelligent procurement and design approaches. Our pioneering carbon calculator - Carbonica - is just one example of how we are helping our customers identify opportunities to implement the Construction Playbook. But we must go further and accelerate carbon reduction on all projects, by working with Government on how whole lifecycle carbon assessments can be mandated in the decision-making process. This would be a huge and exciting leap forward for the industry. We are stronger together and each of us has a part to play in creating a sustainable future.”