Opinion of Linda Wade
Last year, representatives from over 200 countries gathered in Glasgow for the COP26 conference and agreed on goals to promote sustainability and tackle climate change, such as the World Declaration on the transition from coal to clean energy, to help reduce CO2 emissions. More than 90% of global GDP is now covered by net zero commitments, and to achieve these, countries will need to look at their built environment and, more importantly, at the technology that is there to help the sector.
In the UK alone, the built environment and infrastructure contributes around 40% of the total carbon footprint, half of which comes from buildings’ energy production, and is an area to focus on if we want to reduce our carbon emissions. It doesn’t have to be difficult, especially in a time when technology is advanced enough to provide critical metrics and data tracking to let every part of a business know how it’s doing with sustainability. .
The built environment lags behind net zero commitments
No sector is immune to the Sustainable Development Goals: in the transport industry, for example, we are seeing faster and wider adoption of technology to help tackle problems caused by things like burning diesel. Along the same lines, supply chains and designers are looking for ways to integrate the circular economy into all stages of product development and manufacturing.
The built environment, by comparison, does not get the same level of commitment when it comes to focusing on sustainability. However, in 2013 the Infrastructure Carbon Review showed that infrastructure was associated with over half of UK carbon emissions, 30% of which was directly attributed to construction, operation and maintenance actives. Now, almost 10 years later, although progress has been made, it has been found that progress has not been made fast enough to achieve ambitious goals.
There is a key opportunity for the built environment to adopt the technology available today and play a greater role in reducing emissions.