Global concern about the construction sector’s contribution to climate change and human rights abuses are forcing the industry to dig deep into its supply chain
The construction industry is a big focus in the global battle to tackle climate change. In the UK energy use in buildings accounts for half of CO2 emissions, and the construction and demolition of buildings is directly responsible for a further 7%, according to the Institution for Civil Engineers. The building industry is also a big user of natural resources, and is responsible for half of the UK’s total waste (counting both recycled and landfill). How the industry evolves, in the UK as around the world, will have enormous implications for the future of the planet.
Many argue that the industry has been slow to wake up to sustainability. The chairman of the UK government’s Green Construction Board, Mike Putnam, warned delegates to the annual Ecobuild conference in London in March that construction firms are doing “nowhere near enough” towards going green.
“Some leading organisations are doing quite good things across clients, contractors and subcontractors,” said Putnam, who is also head of Skanska UK. “But their number is still quite small compared to the totality of the industry. We need to collaborate much more, share our ideas and get momentum going.” He added that investment in IT and off-site...