When will we achieve carbon-neutral construction?

Carbon-neutral construction is a goal that could change the way that the world works in terms of being able to meet current climate commitments – and create a much greener, brighter future. From the National Grid to residential house builders and developers there is a need for every organisation involved in construction to take greater steps towards minimising carbon that is used or generated in order to help improve the chances of carbon-neutral construction becoming the norm.

Net Zero Construction Projects

Construction projects are incredibly necessary for infrastructure, housing etc but can come with a high carbon cost. Today, we have the technology and insight to start making all construction greener and moving towards a goal of net-zero construction projects. Below are some examples of how this can be done.

  • Reducing the carbon in the materials used for construction. Some of the materials that are most often used in construction can come with the highest carbon cost. Steel, aluminium and concrete tend to be some of the worst offenders. Reducing the carbon impact of the materials that are used in construction can be achieved in a number of different ways. For example, decarbonising the manufacture of these materials could make a big difference. Sustainable sourcing is another potentially positive change that could be made, substituting more sustainable materials that use and emit less carbon.
  • Making a more sustainable process the first – and most cost-effective – choice. Currently, low-carbon and more sustainable options are not necessarily the first choice for those in construction. The more this shifts, the easier it will become to move towards a more carbon-neutral future. Not just because of the impact, this will have on emissions etc but also because the more contractors and designers ask for low-carbon products, the more this will become the norm. As these products become the go-to choice, the costs will go down and they will also become the most affordable.
  • Focusing on innovation. Generating new ideas is going to be crucial when it comes to achieving carbon-neutral construction, especially in terms of finding fresh solutions to old problems that currently require a carbon-heavy fix. Businesses will also need to challenge partners and suppliers to make better choices so as to improve accountability across the industry.

A case study

The National Grid has made a commitment to achieving carbon-neutral construction for its projects by 2025/6. Building and reinforcing its network is a big part of what the organisation does so this could potentially make a substantial difference to what the construction sector can achieve overall in terms of green targets. From focusing on low-carbon concrete, steel and aluminium solutions to establishing working groups on making progress in terms of the supply chain that supports the National Grid, many key steps towards achieving this target have already been taken.

Carbon-neutral construction is possible for every part of the sector. And, if the example of the National Grid is anything to go by, this is something that could be achieved as early as 2026.

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