Securing a green recovery on a path to net zero

Securing a green recovery on a path to net zero

In December 2020, the Scottish Government published its “update to the climate change plan 2018-2032 – securing a green recovery on a path to net zero”.

Scotland has committed to green recovery from Covid-19 in order to capture the opportunities for a transition to net zero through the creation of green jobs, development of sustainable skills and nurture of wellbeing. The report includes policies and proposals for each of the eight sectors identified: electricity, transport, industry, waste, land use/land change/forestry, agriculture, negative emission technologies and buildings.

The most relevant points for FIS members are:

  • Buildings: a regulatory change, delivering significant investment and supporting supply chain growth. Much of the focus appears to be on the stimulation of zero emission heating systems and energy efficiency measures, which a particular focus on domestic buildings. In 2021, the Net Zero Public Sector Buildings standard was launched. This voluntary standards considers 5 objectives: embodied carbon emissions, operational carbon emission, other whole life carbon emissions, indoor environmental quality and environmental aspects. The Government is also working closely with Skills Development Scotland to create the appropriate skills to deliver net zero and published “Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan 2020-2025 Key Issues And Priority Action”.
  • Waste: embed circular economy principles in the wider green recovery, ban on a number of single use plastic items
  • Industry: funds being made available to support the development of carbon capture and hydrogen technologies and for the manufacturing of low products

The document also provides a route map graphic of what the policies will mean in practice – see page 15-22.

FIS Sustainability Hub

FIS is committed to taking a pro-active lead, not just in supporting the UK ambition to net zero carbon by 2050, but delivering profound transformation within our supply chain on all aspects of ethical and environmental sustainability. We have created this hub to bring together resources and information that will support your journey to net zero.

Inspiring Change – A Matter of Respect

Inspiring Change – A Matter of Respect

Last month I signed up to attend the Inspiring Change Event in London – the focus, creating a fair and inclusive environment in construction centred on respect.

It is vital subject on so many levels not least because we have a HUGE skills and labour shortage, but also because it is about creating a better working environment.  Long story short, a phone call about three weeks before the event and I found myself the other side of the microphone giving a keynote talk on why I had completed the training to become a FIR Ambassador!

I often find in construction that there is an abstract concept of the industry, how people think construction should work (or worse think it does work) and then there is the reality, how we get it done despite it all.  These two versions of our industry can seem miles apart.

This is what I chose to talk about at Inspiring Change, not great stuff that is done (others covered positive examples well and I highly recomend checking them out via the event link below), but the gritty reality of when and why we get it wrong, starting firmly with me, myself and I.  I focussed on all the times I have shied away, gotten it wrong and worse, knowingly watched others get it wrong.  The excuses I have used, how I have kidded myself that I was part of the solution rather than the problem.  Both preparing for and listening on the day reminded me again that this agenda is central to who we want to be as a sector.  It isn’t all about all about gender or disability or conscious and unconscious bias, it is simpler.  It is about being better and making sure we take the time to understand, that we help others to understand and that we don’t walk past or look the other way when there is a problem or an opportunity to be better.  This is what we aspire to do on construction sites when it comes to risk management and getting the job right – this is what we need to do in our communities.  This is ultimately how we will make this industry an attractive one that draws the best people in – an industry that demonstratively cares  about our people.

The biggest thing I learned in the FIR Ambassadors course was how ignorant I am in terms of disability and neural diversity.  This was further reinforced at the Inspiring Change event.  I don’t have a disability, I am lucky, but data from Kier suggested 10% of the workforce do (remembering 96% of disabilities are non visible).  A number that really jumped out at me was that the average age someone develops one is 53 – it could still be me.  The stats around diabetes in construction are particularly concerning, but to be honest I had never linked them to the work we do on competence.  If we don’t make the right allowances are people always competent to do the job?  There was some fascinating insights into flexible working on sites and the positive impact this had for Willmott Dixon (see Agile Working Toolkit below), sometimes it is easy to assume there isn’t a better way because we can’t imagine it working.  The early indicators are that at Willmott Dixon there have seen some real benefits, not just linked to happiness, but productivity too.

I always judge a conference by the take away.  It is not a cliché to say I left this one inspired, not just by the people and stories, but the opportunity.

As a sector we talk a lot about modern methods of construction, value led procurement, but they become buzz words, panacea fixes rather than genuine change processes.  At this event we stepped back and thought about the greater good we can do – the social value we can deliver.  It is mind-bogglingly enormous.  If we get it right, we are not just fishing in a wider pool when it comes to shortages of people, but we are rebuilding lives and starting to fish at the top of the pool – because who wouldn’t want to work in a sector that makes this much difference – delivers value with values?  We aren’t perfect, but if we slow down a bit and keep in mind the benefits to diversity in our workforce we can step beyond some of the adversarial behaviours and then we are perfectly poised to be much much better and to do an awful lot of good in the process!

So if you have a Section 106 to fulfil and/or a moral desire to do what you do in a better way, give me a buzz (07792 959 481).  I may not have all of the answers, but I can listen, learn, reflect.  FIS is a platform for action and we are blessed with ever expanding network of people who can help and are committed to making a difference.

You can access the slides from the event and learn more about the Inspiring Change Award winners announced at the event here

Key resources that were highlighted and are definitely worth looking at- Agile Working Toolkit, Supply Chain Sustainability School (Benchmarking Toolkit, Training Resources and more on becoming a FIR Ambassador), find out about becoming a STEM Ambassador, Disability Confident Employers Support, British Association of Supported Employers (promote the principles and delivery of high quality Supported Employment services and work to improve the employment rates of disabled people), Diabetes Safety Advice,,

You can access the full FIS FIR Toolkit here

Written by Iain McIlwee, CEO, Finishes and Interiors Sector
16th December 2021

What is responsible sourcing?

What is responsible sourcing?

Have you ever wondered where the products you buy come from?

For products made with wood (table, paper or construction products), labels such as FSC or PEFC for timber products have been in place for a long time. Those labels promote the responsible management of forests and provide the buyers with reassurance on the origin of the products.

BES6001 is a certification scheme, developed by BRE Global over 10 years ago, which provides a framework for the assessment of responsible sourcing and a route for the certification of construction products against a multi criteria approach. BRE is proposing a new version of the standard, version 4, which is now avaialble for public comments. CPA worked with BRE on the initial development of this standard over a decade ago and has commented on previous versions of the standard. FIS, unless otherwise challenged by its members, broadly support the approach as it provides a route for the demonstration of best practice.

The standard is available here and track changes highlight changes from version 3. If you have any comments please feed these in to Flavie Lowres via email ( before 15 December 2021.

New report confirms sector Net Zero Plans are possible

New report confirms sector Net Zero Plans are possible

UK Green Building Council launches first ever UK Roadmap for achieving Net Zero carbon built environment by 2050.
  • Whole Life Carbon Roadmap from the UK Green Building Council highlights the growing need to quickly close the policy gap on net zero homes and embodied carbon
  • Only with urgent measures and intervention can the UK deliver on its interim target to cut 78% of emissions by 2035, an essential milestone in the nation’s transition to Net Zero by 2050
  • With homes responsible for 16% of total UK carbon emissions, Government must immediately bring forward a national retrofit programme to unlock significant carbon savings, as well as deliver high-quality and cheaper to heat homes for people
  • The Roadmap is the first quantification of the carbon reductions required each year from buildings and infrastructure if the UK is to be net zero by 2050
  • A transformative shift in industry practices is required and so action plans are provided for 14 key stakeholder groups

As global leaders convene at COP26 to discuss the role of the built environment in addressing climate change, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has launched a Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the UK Built Environment (The Roadmap) detailing the necessary actions government and industry must take to achieve net zero across the sector. The built environment is directly responsible for 25% of the total UK carbon footprint, and therefore has a critical role to play in the national transition to Net Zero. Co-created by industry with over 100 organisations contributing, the Roadmap provides a shared vision and set of actions for achieving a net zero UK built environment by 2050, in relation to construction, operation and demolition of buildings and infrastructure.

The Roadmap quantifies, for the first time, the specific emission reductions across sub-sectors of the built environment that will need to take place year-on-year to meet the 2050 deadline. The analysis includes not only domestic emissions, but emissions related to the consumption of imported construction products and materials. The Roadmap establishes a net zero emissions budget and trajectory to 2050, consistent with wider UK carbon targets and budgets as set-out by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), enabling government and the UK built environment to benchmark progress over the coming years and decades.

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC said:

“After all the talk, it’s time for action. The UK Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy is a step in the right direction but fails to address several key priorities that this analysis clearly demonstrates are non-negotiable to achieving a net-zero carbon built environment by 2050. The Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap pulls together disparate strands of recent policy and action into one coherent pathway, with clear recommendations for National Government and Local Authorities, as well as the private sector and the wider industry. We urge policy-makers and industry to embed these recommendations into policies and strategies to make good on the promises and commitments of COP26.”

The Roadmap sets out policy recommendations for central and local governments to help drive and enable the transition needed to decarbonise the sector. These go beyond the recently published UK Government Heat & Buildings strategy and cover existing homes, existing non-domestic buildings and new buildings as well as for the infrastructure which connects our buildings and industry.

The recommendations include:

1) Nation-wide retrofitting of existing homes.

  • Establish an immediate national programme of “fabric first” home retrofit to make homes efficient, warm, and transition away from fossil fuel heating.
  • Bring forward the cut-off date for the sale of gas and oil boilers to 2030.
  • Reform EPCs and introduce minimum EPC ratings for homes at point of sale by 2028.
  • Remove VAT on energy efficient retrofit building works and introduce variable stamp duty linked to energy performance.
  • Introduce direct government retrofit grants for low-income households.

2) Energy performance disclosure for non-domestic buildings.

  • Introduce mandatory in-use energy disclosure for non-domestic buildings.
  • Accelerate the roll-out of energy performance rating schemes across non-domestic sectors, followed by minimum standards and fiscal incentives.

3) Adoption of a design for performance approach to new buildings.

  • Reform building regulations to introduce Energy Usage Intensity (kWh/m2/yr) targets for new buildings from 2025.Alongside low carbon heating for all new buildings from 2025, introduce space

heating demand limits (kWh/m2/yr), measures to limit peak demand, and minimum standards for currently unregulated key appliances.

4) Whole life carbon measurements and agreed limits.

  • Introduce the regulation of embodied carbon for new buildings and major refurbishments
  • Support and invest in industrial decarbonisation of key construction material supply chains
  • Use planning reforms to prioritise reuse of existing buildings and assets

5) National infrastructure investment based on the net emissions impact.

  • Establish a National Infrastructure Integrator with full oversight of carbon impacts

Nigel Topping, COP26 High Level Climate Action Champion, commented:

“As we start a critical decade for climate action, the United Kingdom can and should take a leadership role. This report epitomises leadership and establishes that the UK built environment has a comprehensive and rigorous plan for abating its emissions across the construction, operation, and demolition of buildings and infrastructure. I invite you all to use this Roadmap for delivering a net zero future.”

The Roadmap was co-created by the industry through a project Steering Group and four Task Groups with over 100 organisations contributing. Many of the recommendations align with existing industry initiatives such as Construct Zero from the Construction Leadership Council, and the Construction Industry Council’s Climate Action Plan as well as those contained in the recently published Scottish Government Heat & Buildings strategy. In some cases, the recommendations build on existing Government policy initiatives to facilitate adoption of further proposals and timelines.

UKGBC is one of several European GBCs developing national whole life carbon roadmaps under the #BuildingLife project and The Roadmap was made possible thanks to the support of Laudes Foundation and Ikea Foundation.

FIS Members wishing to update or develop a Carbon Reduction Plan can visit the FIS Sustainability Hub for resources and ideas or contact FIS Sustainability Champion, Flavie Lowres to discuss ideas and options.

CLC and ITN Launch Co-production ‘Building a Greener Britain’

CLC and ITN Launch Co-production ‘Building a Greener Britain’

The construction industry is playing its part in transforming its working practices and leadership models to contribute to the global ambition for a net zero future. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has partnered with ITN Productions Industry News to produce ‘Building a Greener Britain’, a programme exploring some of the new pathways and sustainable methods the sector is adopting, alongside initiatives such as the Construct Zero programme, CLC’s response to the climate emergency.

Anchored by presenter Clare Nasir, Building A Greener Britain, features experts from within the construction industry along with informative interviews, news items and sponsored editorial profiles, filmed in the ITN Productions Industry News London studio and remotely on location. Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, joins Clare Nasir to represent the CLC Steering Coordination Group and discuss how the sector is meeting the challenge.

The feature focusses in on some of the Business Champions who are demonstrating the sector’s commitment towards reducing carbon emissions.  These include

Construction company and property consultancy, Rider Levett Bucknall, is making sustainability an integral part of the conversation at the outset of projects to help achieve greener results.

At the University Hospitals of Leicester, NHS Trust, where the company is reconfiguring the estate with new construction alongside repurposing existing buildings, Andrew Reynolds, Chief Executive of Rider Levett Bucknall, talks about the role of the CLC in meeting sustainable development goals.

The Active Building Centre in Gloucester, created as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Transforming Construction Challenge, which is demonstrating how future builds can be both labour and energy efficient.

A familiar face to many in the finishes and interiors sector Mike Chaldecott, CEO, Saint-Gobain, UK & Ireland, outlines the company’s long-term sustainability strategy.The programme goes to the plant in Yorkshire where Saint-Gobain has invested £30m to produce glass using less energy with higher levels of recycling and more innovation.

Find out more about Construct Zero here

To help start or continue your net zero journey, visit the FIS Sustainabilty Hub here.

Measuring your carbon footprint in the finishes and interiors sector

Measuring your carbon footprint in the finishes and interiors sector

FIS and the Supply Chain Sustainability School are collaborating to help deliver Net Zero in the finishes and interiors sector through a new virtual training portal hosted on the Supply Chain Sustainability School website.

This sustainability training hub is another output of the FIS Sustainability Working Group, which has been established within the FIS community to support a focus on individual change, collective focus and supply chain engagement.  The working group has five core objectives:

  • Increasing knowledge and understanding within the supply chain
  • Setting targets and standardisation (including monitoring and measuring impact)
  • Providing an active network and encouraging collaboration
  • Highlighting individuals and approaches that help inspire and inform change
  • Informing design and encouraging better asset management

At our COP26 webinar this week, FIS Sustainability Champion Flavie Lowres introduced how the tool can be used to support training on Net Zero and wider sustainability matters in our businesses and the School’s tool for measuring the carbon impact of your business available via the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Finishes and Interiors hub here.

You can listen again to the webinar here.

FIS Sustainability Hub

FIS is committed to taking a pro-active lead, not just in supporting the UK ambition to net zero carbon by 2050, but delivering profound transformation within our supply chain on all aspects of ethical and environmental sustainability. We have created this hub to bring together resources and information that will support your journey to net zero.