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Decarbonising construction: Plotting your path to net zero

By District Energy posted 07-21-2021 10:27


PBC Today


We saw a flurry of government announcements in late 2020, including the ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, closely followed by the publication of the long-awaited Energy White Paper and National Infrastructure Strategy, with much more promised for 2021. However, we are still waiting for the announcement of several key policies and strategies that will provide further action around the net zero ambition.

While the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy was published in March 2021, the crucial Heat and Buildings Strategy is still (at time of writing) to be published.

The decarbonisation of the built environment is an extremely challenging area to tackle. It is estimated that the built environment contributes up to 40% of the UK’s emissions – including the construction, operation and maintenance of buildings – with the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) stating that around 10% of emissions are directly attributable to construction.

This includes everything along the supply chain, from the manufacturing of building materials – typically a highly energy intensive process – through to transportation and the construction process itself.

Steps are already being taken to address the decarbonisation challenge. Last year, UK Concrete published its ‘Roadmap to Beyond Net Zero’ which looked at how net zero can be met through decarbonised electricity and transport networks, fuel switching, the use of low-carbon cements and concrete as well as using newer technologies such as carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) for the manufacturing of cement.

When it comes to on-site generation, there is now a great deal of choice including solar photovoltaic (PV), wind or combined heat and power (CHP). Organisations need to make sure that any plans for on-site generation are scoped appropriately, so they can assess where the payback and benefits are – for example, for companies with large plants that have significant roof spaces, car ports or adjacent land or water, solar PV may be the best option.

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