Around 22% of carbon emissions in the UK come from the operational and embodied carbon of the built environment. This statistic, along with other thought-provoking data, was published by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) in its new report on ‘State of Sustainability in the UK Built Environment’.
The report marks the organisation’s 10th anniversary and highlights the point that waste from construction, demolition and excavation represents 59% of the total UK waste, while 10% of UK carbon emissions come from heating buildings alone.
“This project was designed to bring the data that is available to life, and in collaboration with experts, to highlight where we urgently need to either measure new aspects or take different actions to address the magnitude of the challenges we face,” commented, UKGBC chief executive Julie Hirigoyen.
“Now more than ever, our industry must show leadership and galvanise around some of these issues. We need bold and decisive action to make sustainable development truly second nature in the built environment.”
The mayor of London is backing the need for urgent action and has requested new powers from the UKGovernment to implement a “hard-hitting plan of action” that combats emissions produced from machinery and the domestic burning of solid fuels.
Specifically, the Mayor wants greater powers to impose minimum emissions standards for machinery used on construction sites, which constitute the second largest source of ultra-fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in London.
He expressed concern that current standards for non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) such as diggers and bulldozers are not being satisfactorily applied by London boroughs. He called for the creation of a DVLA-style national database for NRMM to assist the new powers.
The Mayor also wants the Clean Air Act amended to create zero-emission zones for the burning of solid fuels like wood and coal. Reform of the Clean Air Act would help the Mayor to set tighter emission limits for new domestic heating appliances like wood burning stoves, which release pollutants known to have a detrimental effect on health.
The UKGBC report shows that:
– 22% of UK carbon emissions come from the operational and embodied carbon of the built environment
– 10% of UK carbon emissions come from heating buildings alone
– 2 million homes are in areas at risk of flooding from surface water
– Waste from construction, demolition and excavation represents 59% of the total UK waste
– Since 1970 56% of monitored species in the UK have declined
– The health effects of particulate air pollution cost the UK around £16 billion per year
– 11% of occupied homes in England are in serious disrepair
It views the report as an important step in clarifying the scale of the sustainability challenge facing the built environment industry. As the organisation embarks on its second decade, it calls for all built environment professionals to take responsibility for making positive and transformational change happen.