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Implementing a green strategy promotes innovative business

Implementing a green strategy is not just good for the environment but also creates a virtuous circle, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Building Net Zero: Life Cycle Project Delivery for the Public Sector briefing, which took place online recently on the REALX.Global platform.

Elizabeth Halliday, Head of Responsible Business, Morgan Sindall

“By choosing more sustainable materials and developing the supply chain we can make a real difference,” said Elizabeth Halliday, head of responsible business, Morgan Sindall. “Innovative businesses should be supported to get the construction industry to where it needs to be.”

There are always new and improved construction materials being developed, better ventilation systems and insulation methods. Investing in them promotes innovation and rewards the innovators.

“We need to give companies a fighting chance to innovate,” said Chris Clarke, performance and improvement director, SCAPE. “It’s not just an investment in the environment but also in local companies. The capital cost obsession in the industry is limiting the scope for change.”

There are positive signs that change is coming as more companies come on board.

“We’re starting to see real traction in the supply chain as there is more interest in net zero delivery,” said Peter Barker, head of design management, McLaughlin & Harvey Construction. “It’s a moving target now, but it’s moving in the right direction.”

A responsible business plan seeks to protect the environment but also support people, enhance local communities and support local businesses.

Lisa McDade, Environmental Advisor, Kier Construction

“Collaboration is key, because there’s not much time left,” said Lisa McDade, environmental advisor, Kier Construction. “If we want to stay below 1.5 degrees we need to level emissions by 2025 and we cannot do it if we work in silos.”

A roadmap is crucial to turning good intentions into action. The SCAPE Life Cycle route provides tangible evidence, a structured process and a clear guide that helps companies decarbonise one step at a time.

“Most people want to do the right thing but don’t know how to go about it,” said McDade. “The guide really helps them to achieve their targets.”

The newly-published guide to the Net Zero Public Sector Buildings Standard is designed to deal with new builds as well as refurbishments, but from a sustainability point of view it is preferable to upgrade existing buildings.

“We say buildings are the material banks of the future, because they can always be used for something else,” said Halliday. “More and more customers are seeking to upgrade their assets, which is very positive as the majority of embodied carbon is in the foundation and structure of the building.”