Speaking at today’s virtual Business 7 Summit (or ‘B7’), which welcomes around 60 CEO’s from leading UK and global companies across the G7 countries, and feeds into the G7 Summit programme, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, recognised the construction industry’s contribution to achieving Net Zero.

In remarks to the concluding session, which aimed to identify how government and business can work together to address global challenges in climate, digital and health, the Secretary of State set out his priorities and views on business leadership, highlighting that over 58 UK construction businesses have already signed-up to Race to Zero, including firms such as Lendlease and Multiplex.

The Secretary of State also highlighted the UK’s leading consultancy businesses working in the built environment, who have today collectively committed to offering ambitious design options and advice that are fully compatible with Net Zero outcomes to their clients. This means that the expert advice received by financiers, asset owners and operators will now be encouraging, and actively driving towards, ambitious Net Zero choices.

These firms are respected around the globe for their expertise and include AECOM, Arcadis, Arup, Atkins, Buro Happold, Jacobs, Mott MacDonald, Mace, Turner & Townsend and WSP.

Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK’s construction and engineering industries are leading the world in the drive to cut emissions, and I am thrilled to see so many businesses from all over the globe share this ambition.

“As we build back better, the commitments made at this summit will support the construction industry to make this essential low carbon transition and I look forward to working closely with the sector and the Construction Leadership Council on this journey.”

iain McIlwee, FIS Chief Executive said: “Net Zero is fast emerging as the most talked about subject in construction, rightly driven by an understanding we need to be better and a Build Back Greener mindset from Government.  Beyond growing understanding of environmental impact, we are living through a time when material supply is short and global supply chains fractured – we are being forced to confront and consider carefully everything we use, make sure we avoid waste by getting it right first time and ultimately how we can reuse and reinvent to prevent waste.

Recognition from the Secretary of State in terms of the work done so far is encouraging and I am encouraged by the CO2nstruct Zero work of the CLC, but to hit the targets being talked about we need a monumental supply chain shift in terms of the way we design, procure, construct and manage buildings.

For me Net Zero starts, as with every element of improvement in construction, with early engagement and genuine attempts to manage risk through collaboration.  Let’s be clear being unsustainable is another risk, one that crystalises when the supply chain is not engaged with and informing the design, site planning and communicates effectively about how we can be better together, rather than simply contractualises the problem.  Our new sustainability working group is focussing on five key areas; informing design, encouraging better material and asset management, increasing knowledge and understanding within the supply chain, setting targets and standardisation in monitoring and measuring, providing a collaborative support network and highlighting individuals and approaches that help inspire and inform change.  As a first step we have updated our Sustainability Toolkit and we are calling on any member interested in supporting us in this work to join our new working group.”

You can access the upgraded FIS Sustainability Toolkit here

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and CO2nstructZero lead at the CLC said: “I’m delighted to see ACE members among those demonstrating the leadership required if our industry is to play its part in helping society to meet its ambitious Net Zero targets.

“The UK’s leading global consultancy businesses are well advanced in achieving Net Zero on their direct emissions. In order to deliver significant reductions to society’s carbon emissions, these firms are now also committing to proactively shaping their clients’ decisions and approach. This means that more projects will start out with Net Zero at their core, delivering a positive knock-on effect along the entire construction supply chain.”