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Morrell: Contractors must take responsibility

Chief construction adviser places main contractors at the heart of carbon reduction efforts

Chief construction adviser Paul Morrell has told contractors they must coordinate the industry’s carbon reduction efforts.

In an interview with Construction News, Mr Morrell said contractors had “the skills and ability to integrate the whole process”.

Appointed as the first CCA at the end of November, Mr Morrell’s first task has been to lead the government-commissioned Low Carbon Construction Review.

The review is exploring the ways in which the construction industry can help the UK meet its carbon reduction goals, and Mr Morrell is due to report his initial findings this spring.

He said: “Contractors are the natural integrators. They have to bring the whole process together.”

The Low Carbon Construction Review was announced by business secretary Lord Mandelson last September, who said: “The sector will play a crucial part as the UK tackles climate change, as emissions from buildings account for around 44 per cent of Britain’s total end-use carbon emissions.”

But Mr Morrell said: “My least favourite expression is that buildings consume 40 per cent of energy. The reality is that buildings consume energy because that is where people are.

“It is like blaming a beach for consumption of suntan lotion.”

Mr Morrell said the industry’s response would be driven by the recognition of a huge potential market. “That’s what gets any business up in the morning,” he said.

“It is important to equip ourselves now. We need to work out the solutions to the problem on the supply side and what the best outcome could be.”

He added: “The best bet is that carbon emissions will start to become more expensive from about 2012 to 2013.

“I do not see a huge amount going on in the industry to prepare itself to significantly reduce its carbon emissions.

“Those demonstrating only a short-term interest will be left behind. They need to take a longterm interest.”

Mr Morrell said contractors had a unique position as they have direct contact with both clients and the supply chain.

He said: “Contractors have the skills and the ability to drive this through the procurement process.

“They need to add to their combination of skills a genuine partnering attitude down through the supply chain. They need to manage and motivate designers, architects and manufacturers.”

But he added: “I will not push anybody. This is a subject we ought to be in agreement on.”

The CCA warned that if changes did not start to happen in the next year or two then they would be enforced through regulation.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with The Times, Mr Morrell said buildings from the 60s and 70s may need to be torn down to help meet carbon emission standards.

He said: “In the 60s, everything was built cheaper, faster and nastier. If you are going to try to fix buildings, then really you won’t have too many problems with anything built earlier than the 50s or after the 80s.

“Although you can do some things to buildings from the 60s and 70s, like replacing the roofs, there are probably some places that need to come down entirely.”

Mr Morrell added: “The buildings that pose the most difficulties are semi-industrialised, highly inefficient, badly insulated and so ugly that they are not worth refurbishing.”