British construction groups are calling for a green change in public procurement

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Some of the UK’s largest construction companies and contractors have called on the government to revise the procurement process for public construction projects to reduce carbon emissions.

Groups including Willmott Dixon, Mace and Morgan Sindall sent a letter to Construction Minister Lee Rowley urging the government to include environmental impact in procurement decisions for new construction and renovation projects, rather than focusing solely on costs.

Local and central government are important clients for the construction industry. The signatories of the letter are collectively responsible for the £ 18 billion public sector construction projects to be implemented over the next five years, including schools, offices and public buildings.

The government’s procurement process is aimed at reducing costs. “The most important requirement of procurement policy is that all public procurement must be based on value for money. . . This should be achieved through competition, unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary “, the Government said.

But it is advising on public procurement reforms, which with about 300 billion pounds make up about a third of annual public spending, and the new regime should be introduced in 2023 at the earliest.

As the contribution of buildings to climate change is increasingly monitored, construction companies are proposing a new approach to procurement that takes into account the impact on the environment.

“In particular, we believe that life-cycle carbon assessments should be mandatory for all UK new public works and refurbishment projects, with design and construction decisions based on the building’s carbon life cycle, not solely on cost.” written by companies. in a letter coordinated by the public sector procurement body Scape and seen by the Financial Times.

Life cycle carbon refers to the total emissions of a building from the materials used in its construction to the continuous use of energy and finally its demolition.

Incorporating carbon emissions into procurement decisions could mean higher upfront costs for projects, but signatories to the letter say operating savings from more sustainable buildings would offset those costs by an average of six years.

Emission factoring would also help the government achieve its goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with the built environment responsible for about 40 percent of the nation’s total carbon footprint, according to the UK Green Building Council.

“Combating the carbon intensity of public property has become key to the mission. . . Achieving this does not mean reinventing the wheel – many immediate answers are in sight, ”said Mark Robinson, CEO of Scape, an expert on the built environment. “We need to work together as an industry to rethink our traditional approaches and ensure that carbon is considered an integral part of our decision-making.”

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