Decarbonising projects of scale – how to avoid the unintended consequences

ISG’s latest roundtable discussion invited key influencers from across the built environment to discuss the opportunities and challenges of mega scheme decarbonisation and how positive change across a small number of large projects can reduce carbon emissions and accelerate innovation. 

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The virtual and in-person event brought together experts across the built environment who are responsible for delivering projects of scale and technical complexity, and driving the UK’s Government’s ‘levelling up agenda’ and Britain’s Net Zero ambitions.

Joining ISG’s group director for sustainable business, Debbie Hobbs, and divisional director for high-tech manufacturing, Paul Dickson, were a panel including: Eugene Smethurst, director – infrastructure, Europe, for Atkins; Craig Woodburn, head of ESG at Britishvolt; Mark Bryden, board director for Bryden Wood; Ben Breaden, associate director at Buro Happold; Maria Smith, director of sustainability and physics at Buro Happold; Alma Sottile – sustainability consultant for Rebelleon; and Michael Lock, head of technical – associate director, property management at Savills.

Kicking off the discussion, Debbie Hobbs is finally seeing momentum building around the principle of property valuation being directly impacted by environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics – predominantly focusing on net zero. Working from the internationally agreed science-based target initiative – by 2050, global energy use needs to reduce by 80% – this means in the construction, operation, and process load of our buildings.

“The big call out here is that if your contractor does not understand, or is not engaged on, the carbon liability of your manufacturing processes, then that’s a huge issue coming down the line and a major risk of future tariff and reputational damage.”

Debbie Hobbs, Group Director for Sustainable Business, ISG  

The message from the panel was clear and focused on optimism and changing conversations. Understanding the complexities around the vocabulary, standards and definitions of sustainability remains the key barrier to Net Zero adoption, but organisations are waking up to the reality of a changing climate.

The consensus answer here was that responsibility lay with every stakeholder – everyone needs to be accountable and play their role in the future way we contract.

There was clear agreement that for our largest built assets, a nuanced and data-led approach is critical to affect transformational change, with lifecycle decarbonisation the prize, not initiatives and policies that lead to damaging unintended consequences.

You can read the full write up here.
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