The government’s building strategy Construction 2025 aims to reduce emissions by 50%. Is this achievable – and how can Combined Heat and Power (CHP) play a part?
The construction industry is one of the largest sectors of the UK’s economy. Although it has seen hard times since the 2008 recession, when its contribution was around 8%, it still contributes around 6% to the economy.
To ensure future growth, the industry is having to adapt to many challenges, such as climate change and reduced public spending, while also keeping a close eye on the global construction market, especially as this market is forecast to grow by over 70% by 2025.
Understanding the risks
There is an evident shift towards greener and more sustainable construction, and the opportunities and efficiencies that using digital working practices and innovative technologies will bring. With this, unfortunately, comes some additional risk.
Historically, many important decisions taken during the feasibility, design and construction phases of a building development focused simply on the completion of a project both on-time and at the cheapest initial installation cost, particularly as investors had been reluctant to step away from standard construction processes.
Today, time and cost remain important, but environmental impact and sustainability are also key priorities. With almost 50% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from energy used to heat buildings, legislation is becoming more and more targeted towards improved energy efficiency and reduced emissions in buildings.
As the build cost of a development is often surpassed by its lifetime operational energy costs, the decision-making process has become a little more complex. In this respect, consultation between developers and end users at early feasibility and design stages is paramount.
Construction Strategy 2025
The policy is a joint strategy between government and the construction industry, the overall aim of which is to improve the close working relationship between public authorities and suppliers and contractors through the adoption of best working practices. This is intended to bring greater transparency of information, and to deliver the significant growth required.
The hope is that this approach will make the construction industry processes less fragmented and more in tune with the end user’s actual requirements, thus helping to reduce waste and environmental impact.
Lower costs: 33% reduction in the initial construction of new build and the whole-life costs of built assets.
Faster delivery: 50% reduction in overall completion times.
Lower emissions: 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment.
Improvements in export: 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials.
Construction 2025 should help to reduce the investment risks by openly encouraging the introduction of the following best practices:
Feasibility and planning designs that are reliable and de-risked.
Benchmarking to ensure a level cost market and comprehensible procurement activities across projects.
Use of common standards for specifications and contracts.
Encourage the standardisation of sustainable building components: e.g. using innovative and energy saving fabrication methods, systems, materials, technology, etc.
Reducing emissions with low-carbon technology
If the 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions target is to be achieved, then low-carbon technology is going to play a large part in this.
Passive and active design measures incorporated into building services designs for new developments will help improve energy efficiencies, but these may only have a relatively small impact on overall energy savings.
Low carbon energy generation can make a significant difference to energy savings, especially when the whole lifecycle of a building is considered.
Across the UK, local authority planning departments are encouraging, wherever feasible, the use of decentralised low carbon energy from district heating networks and Combined Heat and Power (CHP).
Heat and electrical power generated simultaneously by an on-site CHP unit is an excellent source of low-carbon energy as it is up to 30% more efficient and has 30% fewer emissions than conventional energy generation.
The industry has new challenges, which means overcoming new risks.
Whole-life costs will be a main driving force behind many projects, especially public spending projects.
Closer working best practices are being encouraged.
Technology and innovation are a key link for the future.
Low-carbon energy will reduce emissions and energy bills, helping the environment and making buildings more sustainable.
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Topics: Building Design