Net zero: five steps on the path to green skills and leadership
Tarmac Nick toy presents five steps on the path to developing the green leadership skills needed to achieve net zero.
Delivering net zero undoubtedly requires significant cultural and behavioral change for everyone involved in construction and infrastructure. What training and education is needed to make the transition and seize the opportunity? How important is customer leadership in helping the supply chain achieve better social and environmental outcomes?
These are just a few of the questions we wanted to explore in our research – Clean Build: Unlock Net Zero. The results provide an interesting assessment of current levels of awareness, training and the role of the client in setting up projects for net zero success.
Here are five lessons learned from the research:
1: People want training for a net zero world and some would like this before COP26.
COP26 is considered an important threshold for many people. Ahead of the summit’s opening in Glasgow in November, nearly half of those surveyed for our study want more advice and training to help the infrastructure sector go carbon-free.
This is very positive news for me because it shows a willingness to learn. It is a firm acceptance that collectively we do not yet have all the answers. This means that when people gain knowledge and training, they think carefully about what they are doing and the environmental choices they are making. It is important to recognize that progress is being made with the Construction Leadership Council competency plan and the Supply Chain Sustainability School.
2: Customer leadership can create a culture of “how can we do even better?” ”
It is clear from our research that if and how a project measures carbon and at what stages of its life cycle is often shaped by customers. For many entrepreneurs, carbon pricing is an opportunity cost – if the customer is willing to pay, of course it will.
There are currently times when customers are choosing carbon targets that are at the lowest common denominator. It’s about keeping a level playing field across the supply chain, but that doesn’t always push anyone to innovate or help develop approaches that will lead to better environmental outcomes.
The race to net zero will require customers and all members of the supply chain to go “above and beyond” as the norm. This is an important cultural and behavioral change for a construction industry that has sometimes accepted average performance; often because the data has not been gathered to prove it. The aim should be to set stimulating but deliverable baselines and measure performance over an extended period of time taking into account performance over the lifetime of the assets.
3: Net zero is seen as a priority and a business opportunity.
More than a third of those surveyed said net zero offered a significant benefit to their business. This level of response again felt in line with the way many companies talk about the climate emergency and shape their business propositions.
But do people really understand the major transformation that will be required and are they willing to pay more for products and materials that will deliver better environmental outcomes?
Well, almost 80% of those surveyed initially expressed some willingness to pay more for low carbon products, services or materials. 10% said they would pay a lot more, 31% would be happy with a moderate increase and 39% said they would if it was a small increase.
The government, as one of construction’s largest customers, has a role to play here, by committing to provide products and materials that will reduce carbon emissions while using public funds wisely. . It is also for the procurement teams to think about and take into account all the carbon impacts and costs of product selection over the entire lifespan.
4: There are a myriad of approaches to reducing carbon emissions – early engagement in the supply chain is essential.
There are undoubtedly great entrepreneurs who take big steps to forensic understanding of how to reduce carbon emissions throughout the lifecycle of a project. They’ve created tailor-made tools to understand master data, and then they use them to understand the opportunities and constraints of live projects. It’s great and it’s great to see that they are working with the suppliers.
However, there needs to be a standard approach and common tools across the industry as too many people try to build their own carbon databases. Sometimes it doesn’t help anyone to have more informed discussions about a product’s performance over its entire lifecycle or the impact of a project on the lifecycle. High quality tools and best practices already exist; the only way to ensure clarity is to align them all to the PAS 2050 standard.
It must become a standard approach to achieve greater savings. Engaging with building product manufacturers in the preliminary design process will help customers and contractors make more informed decisions about materials and design specifications that improve performance throughout life.
5: Let’s turn trust into net zero delivery.
Whether it’s because many construction companies have adapted well to the challenges of the pandemic or because companies have pivoted and set net zero high in their business strategies, there is an air of confidence in the UK’s capacity. United to become net zero. Over 60% of respondents are slightly or moderately convinced that the UK can meet the Prime Minister’s target of reducing carbon emissions by 68% * by 2030.
Yes, a lot of people want more clarity from the government on a net zero roadmap, but there is undoubtedly a lot of leeway to exploit the optimism and the steps already taken to implement this by. 2021.
Click here to read the full Own construction: net zero unlocking report, produced by Tarmac in partnership with Infrastructure Intelligence.
* At the time this research was undertaken, achieving a 68% carbon reduction by 2030 was recognized as a government commitment. It is now recognized that this figure has changed to reach a target of 78% by 2035.
Nick Toy, Senior National Business Development Manager, Tarmac.