Tuesday 18 August 2020

The path to net zero... in construction

To anyone not in the construction industry, your first reaction might be, "really? Would that be a path of crazy paving; slabs of broken promises?" No, indeed! This is a very serious proposition. If you read the construction trade press, many companies, small and large are taking the plunge and making a commitment to achieve net zero emissions in their operations. 

I recently participated in some Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) research aiming to find out what are the skills needs to achieve net zero. I was feeling a little gung ho on the day of the research interview and we rapidly departed from the 'script'. Instead of emphasising things like skills to specify and install various renewable technologies - which are extremely valuable - I cut straight to the chase and told the researcher, "look, you're not going to get anywhere unless people believe in it. There is massive work to be done in shifting attitudes, before you worry about screwdrivers and tools and things." Not that everyone needs to be a tree hugger (although I've got nothing against them, trees that is...). In the same way that health and safety has become a no-brainer, we need to cultivate an attitude of assurance, good quality, low waste and care for the planet into our DNA. We really need to decide what we value. And we need to do it a darn side quicker than it took with H&S (I remember running youngman boards with barrows into skips when I worked on sites as a student in the summer holidays in the late 80s, 15 years after the HASAW act!). 

I won't give too much more away here, but I'll be speaking about this theme at the University Campus St Albans (UCSA) 'Build Better, Build Faster and Build Greener’ conference on 10 September at 8.30. Event invite here. It would be good to see you there.

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