National Federation of Builders urges UK to act on 2050 zero carbon target

By Daniel Brightmore
The National Federal of Builders’ (NFB) Major Contractors Group in the UK has launched its latest report:‘Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon...

The National Federal of Builders’ (NFB) Major Contractors Group in the UK has launched its latest report: ‘Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon Future’.

The report argues that election promises on zero carbon mean nothing unless bot the Government and construction industry commit to radical change. With construction directly influencing 47% of UK carbon emissions and 61% of UK waste, the sector is a critical part of the radical change needed.

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, Chair of the NFB’s Major Contractors Group, commented: “The year 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.

“To make this happen, domestic housing requires a Government spend of £15bn a year, industrial and commercial property and infrastructure requires up to £10bn a year, flood defences £1bn a year, and the power sector £20bn 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 we are launching today 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.”


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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 has contributions from a wide range of organisations with an interest in the sector, including: the CBI, the CITB, Constructing Excellence, the Institution of Civil Engineers, Laing O’Rourke and Nottingham City Council.

“If our customers start to ask us to drive down carbon, we will see a very quick shift in the market to address it, bringing innovative solutions to reduce the levels of carbon in the market,” commented Alasdair Reisner of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA).Our largest customer as the infrastructure sector is the UK government, so it has a role both as a regulator and a legislator, but also as a buyer. If it chooses to buy low carbon solutions the market will step into that space and deliver lower carbon that helps us meet our 2050 commitments.”

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) represents builders, regional contractors and house builders across England and Wales. As one of the UK’s longest-standing trade bodies, it was created to represent the building profession and to help create the conditions for its members to thrive and contribute to the economic success of the UK. 


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