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ACE/ EIC Blog: Most sectors of the built environment are unprepared for Net Zero

By Matthew Farrow, Director of Policy at ACE and EIC.

New joint research by Pledge to Net Zero signatories, the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and the Environmental industries Commission (EIC) has revealed that most sectors are unprepared for Net Zero with water, ports and airports among the least ready.

The findings were shared in Are We Ready? Delivering Net Zero in the built environment which polled more than 135 Net Zero and sustainability experts across the industry.

The results show few sectors rating highly with common challenges such as client business models being incompatible with Net Zero pathways, and disconnects between different regulators.

In response, the report argues that we need a holistic approach which marries policy changes to new ways of delivering projects.

Changes at a project level

On a project level, it argues for use of the Construction Innovation Hub’s Value Toolkit which will help consultants proactively offer clients Net Zero designs that make all projects, not just prestige new builds, carbon free.

Policy recommendations

Among the policy recommendations are proposals to build on the recent changes to the ‘Green Book’ and create a clear link between the Sixth Carbon Budget pathways from the CCC and revised infrastructure National Policy Statements, while better integrating Net Zero into the NPPF, Strategic Environmental Assessments and the Environmental Impact Assessments system.

Engineers and consultants as educators

It also reinforces the vital role our sectors will have to play in helping society understand, and make progress on, Net Zero, while urging consultants to lead by example, codify best practice, upskill, and support clients to “do the right thing”.

As part of this we explicitly urged all businesses in our sectors to sign-up to the Pledge to Net Zero.

Starting a Net Zero journey

There’s plenty more in the report, of course, including more detail on the performance of the individual sectors of the built environment, great case studies showcasing best-practice from HS2, Bristol City Council, MottMacDonald and Crown Estates.

This is the product of a year’s work by our joint taskforce and we will build on this activity throughout 2021 in the run-up to the rescheduled COP26.

Download your copy of the report, or replay the launch event featuring Dr Sarah Prichard of Buro Happold, Tim Chapman of Arup, Dr Louise Carver of Lancaster University and Daniel Johns of Anglia Water.


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