Carbon Report’s rallying cry for ‘radical construction sector change’

A leading trade body representing builders has called on the construction sector and any future Government, ‘to act now’ if they are to meet the 2050 zero carbon target.

With construction directly influencing 47% of UK carbon emissions, and 61% of UK waste (according to figures from the 'Low carbon construction innovation & growth team: final report', and 'DEFRA Statistics on Waste' respectively), the sector is ‘a critical part of the radical change needed’, says the National Federation of Builders’ (NFB) Major Contractors Group (MCG), which has today (11 November) launched a hard-hitting report, 'Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon Future' report. The report warns that the construction industry ‘must be transformed within a generation; otherwise it will have failed the country and the Government will fail in its zero carbon ambitions’.

Speaking at the report's launch, NFB’s Chairman, Nick Sangwin, said: “This Report is not a document to sit on shelves gathering dust; it is designed to galvanise the sector into action, to see the opportunities, and to lead the way towards zero carbon by 2050. It is critical that those within the construction sector are stepping forward and implementing a real step-change in the way they do business.”

Mark Wakeford (pictured), Chair of the NFB’s Major Contractors Group, commented: “2050 might seem a long time away, but it’s really not much time to radically change our industry. We must start now, and the Government, in whatever guise they return, must lead the way, and make this a firm priority post-election. Anyone still operating the same way as they are today in 20 years’ time will be lucky to still be in business. There are no excuses – Government, contractors, the supply chain, manufacturers, designers, and the trades, must all embrace the challenge now, as highlighted in our recommendations.”

Mark Wakeford continued: “To make this happen, domestic housing requires a Government spend of £15 billion a year, industrial and commercial property and infrastructure up to £10 billion a year, flood defences £1 billion a year, and the power sector £20 billion a year. But it’s about more than just money; the transformation required in the construction industry is multi-faceted, and it is critical that Industry and Government take a joined-up approach to bring together developments in skills, procurement, design, products and materials, transport, and more. The report is a call-to-arms, we’re telling the Government and the industry alike to wake up to the reality of zero carbon and act now.”

While the Report warns against the risks of not acting now, it also spells out ‘the huge opportunities that exist across the sector’, including domestic, industrial, flood defence, the power sector and transport. It looks at funding streams, the transformation of skills, procurement and design, and innovative approaches to reducing carbon emissions and waste. The report includes contributions from a wide range of organisations, including: the CBI, the CITB, Constructing Excellence, the Institution of Civil Engineers, Laing O’Rourke and Nottingham City Council.

To download the ‘interactive report’ visit