Meeting Net Zero
Molly Shaw is responsible for supporting the safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) team at CWM contractor partner, Speller Metcalfe. A recent starter, her experience and passion for sustainable construction and education has brought fresh insight to the business. Here she discusses the contractor’s commitment to reaching Net Zero by 2032 – 18 years ahead of government requirements.
The construction sector has a huge impact on sustainable development and the environment, from the amount of energy it uses to the emissions we emit. As well as the potential impact of developments on natural habitats, the amount of energy used across the industry is high. The heavy machinery we use still heavily relies on fossil fuels, and even inefficient electricity use can result in the unnecessary burning of fossil fuels further down the energy supply line.
As a result of our combined actions, the construction industry is responsible for a huge 36% of global energy consumption and 40% of CO2 emissions. But it doesn’t stop there; we are also excessive producers of waste and according to DEFRA, construction, demolition and excavation accounted for a 62% of the UK’s total waste in 2018. On occasion, some of this waste can be hazardous, and incorrect disposal can result in pollution that not only affects the environment, but the health of people living in that area.
But the flip side is that our industry has a real opportunity to make a significant dent in achieving government aspirations for the UK reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050. As a business, Speller Metcalfe is taking our duty of care extremely seriously, committing to achieving Net Zero (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) by 2032 – 18 years ahead of the national target. To reach this goal, we have produced a Carbon Roadmap that sets out the measures we have in place, in progress, or will be implemented to help us achieve this target.
The detail of what these will look like for Speller Metcalfe over the next five years include (but are not limited to):
- Carbon offsetting: development of strategies to offset business carbon expenditure, such as tree planting, creation of wild flower eco systems and introduction of pollinator species on sites, among others;
- Green energy procurement: commitment to generating electricity from 100% renewable energy across each Speller Metcalfe office by 2026 (three sites). Feasibility studies to determine accommodation of PV panels outside of existing provision at Malvern HQ;
- Labour and material sourcing: procurement of labour and materials as locally to each of our sites as possible. In 2020, 61% of all orders were placed within 30 miles, and 84% within 50 miles. Target of 80% within 30 miles by 2026;
- Sustainability charter: Supported by the Board of Directors from December 2021, this charter will demonstrate and require commitment to sustainability at all levels of the organisation to aid carbon impact reduction by our staff and wider workforce – both professionally and personally;
- Car fleet: in 2021 limiting company cars to solely electric / hybrid vehicles with migration of entire fleet (i.e., vans) by 2030, with 70% inclusion by 2026;
- Recycled material preference: viable worn site material reused following appropriate conversion and processing to further reduce off-site disposal and associated transportation. Continuous engagement at design stage to identify best site solutions;
- Virtual meetings: where collaboration and progress can be maintained through virtual meetings this will become policy, limiting fuel miles;
- Site welfare: reduction of diesel generators to less than 15% of projects by 2026, preferring mains connections to realise benefits of collective energy production and supply;
- Carbon reduction training: provision of carbon literacy training to 75% of leadership team by 2026, with the potential to become a Carbon Literacy Training Organisation and offer in-house accreditations tailored specifically to our organisation;
- Producing repurpose / recycling: promote the re-use of common site items to prevent landfill and disposal;
- Sustainability support guide: SHEQ department commitment to provide sustainability support guide with specific carbon reduction measures including (but not limited to) low carbon lunch, car share opportunities, material sharing, bitesize guides, up-cycle opportunities and volunteering;
- Low carbon travel days: employees to support low carbon commute to work with benchmark data set to aid measurement and improvements, e.g., walking, public transport and cycling;
- Hydrogen fuel power: currently investigating use of hydrogen and a source of power for common site elements such as CCTV. Commitment to exploring this for wider use following site trials.
As new and improved ways of working continue to be developed, so will our Carbon Roadmap, to ensure we continue to reflect best practice and more importantly reduce our emissions in line with our 2032 target.
In our drive to be at the forefront of innovation, collaboration and sustainable construction, we will continue to share our knowledge and learning from these carbon reduction initiatives to support the betterment of the wider industry. Examples include our CPD accredited programme, The Bill Munn Knowledge Series, alongside additional educational tools such as workshops and toolbox talks to reach our wider workforce and project teams.
* Scope 1 and 2 emissions
Statistics from this opinion piece have been drawn from: