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Measure all carbon in supply chain, says report

Chief Construction Adviser Paul Morrell has unveiled the initial findings of his 40-year plan for a low-carbon construction industry.

The Low Carbon Construction Emerging Findings report from Mr Morrell’s Innovation and Growth Team sets out how the construction supply chain and its customers
should work together in new ways to reduce costs and stimulate innovation for low-carbon retrofit and new-build.

A key announcement is that the construction supply chain should focus on a ‘whole life carbon appraisal’ taking in ‘embodied carbon’ - the carbon emissions from manufacture of equipment and materials and their transport and assembly on site.

A further key element is that London will become a designated Low Carbon Economic Area for energy efficient buildings, alongside Manchester.

As a result of this whole life approach, the report said, anyone involved in the construction process should be considering how to reduce carbon in product selection
and design, manufacturing, and in logistics both on site and in getting products to site.

On top of this, attention needs to be given to the carbon in the operation of the building, the report said, which would impact particularly on HVACR. The report has thus recommended re-introducing “properly funded published audits” of buildings’ energy performance in comparison with their design criteria.

Another recommendation is that the Government should seek ways to regulate carbon reduction in nondomestic buildings, which the Carbon Trust believesrepresents a massive 35 per cent reduction opportunity by 2020.

The interim findings identify what Mr Morrell described as four great opportunities’ for the sector:

  • To execute a huge programme of work over at least the next 40 years;
  • To make use of that workload to reform the structure and practice of the industry;
  • To export the products and skills of a modernised industry in following the UK’s lead in reducing emissions;
  • To excite future generations of potential recruits into “an industry with a noble cause”.

Mr Morrell, said: “No one should underestimate the scale of the opportunity the transition to a low-carbon economy will offer construction. It is probably the biggest change management programme the industry has faced since Victorian times.”

The final report from the IGT will be presented to the Government at the end of 2010.