Net Carbon Reduction

Sarwjit Sambhi shares his views on EAC ‘Building to net zero: costing carbon in construction’ report

Last week, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published their ‘Building to net zero: costing carbon in construction‘ report, which explores the role of the built environment in helping the UK to reach net zero by 2050 and achieve a 68% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

St. Modwen has contributed to the report by supplying evidence as part of the EAC’s enquiry into the sustainability of the built environment, offering insights from our experiences in implementing sustainability improvements and highlighting where further action is needed from Government and regulators.

Following publication, Sarwjit Sambhi, St. Modwen CEO, has offered his views on the report’s findings.

“As a developer of both new homes and modern warehouses we have made sustainable construction a primary focus. It’s the right thing to do and will help us achieve our ambition to be operationally net zero carbon by 2025 and fully net zero by 2040. In turn, it will help the UK achieve its ambition of being a net zero economy by 2050.

“We welcome the Select Committee’s report and fully support its call for mandatory whole-life carbon assessments for buildings. This will give us all a true picture of the environmental impact through construction, operation and ultimately demolition or refurbishment. At St. Modwen we already measure our carbon impact in this way but, as the Committee suggests, we need a standardised approach across the UK, aligned with design codes, building regulations and planning policy, so there is full transparency on the environmental impact of a building.

“We must encourage innovation and creative thinking to deliver efficient buildings and infrastructure, from low carbon concrete and sheep’s wool insulation to vegetable oil-powered plant machinery. And new technology can’t stop at just buildings and their construction – we must deploy it everywhere we have the chance. For example, we’re leading the way with carbon negative homes, using a combination of reducing air loss, using new materials and installing energy-saving and energy-efficient products such as solar panels and heat pumps. Overall, these trial homes are capable of reducing homeowners’ energy bills by 79% and delivering a 125% reduction in CO2 emissions.

“There also needs to be a change in mindset around the use of timber. In our view, it will not be possible to substantially reduce the embodied carbon of new homes without a significant switch to timber as the primary structure. The use of timber in housebuilding continues to be restricted by regulation as well as a lack of supply and prohibitive costs. As the report suggests, Government must look at how it can address these issues, particularly supply, if the UK is to address it housing shortage with the delivery of greener homes.

“St. Modwen was proud to contribute to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report and we will continue to do all we can to support the transition to a greener, more sustainable built environment.”

Sarwjit Sambhi, St. Modwen CEO

Read the full report, here,