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Ideas to decarbonise the construction industry

  • by JW

What are the ‘true costs’ of traditional approaches to construction?


We need to be decarbonising construction – as the built environment, of which the construction sector is a crucial component, currently contributes some 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions. Furthermore, some estimates show that worldwide the construction industry consumes 75% of the earth’s natural resources.

And we can see exactly what this means in a very visual way at the “True Cost” exhibition at Milan Design Week portraying the environmental cost of the construction industry:

Milan Design Week rarely fails to deliver on compelling showcases of design and innovation. One of the exhibitions this year, created by Swatchbox, conveys the “true cost” of traditional approaches to construction. The sample platform founded by architects to provide sustainable sampling methods to the design community launched its thought-provoking showcase at the heart of the Brera Design District in Milan.

There are, however, some very clever ways to decarbonise the industry proposed over recent years, from new advances in timber construction and other innovative materials to reduce carbon to considering circular construction as a solution to embodied carbon in buildings.

Finally, this week’s Arch Daily looks at how engineered wood can decarbonize the construction industry:

At a time when sustainability and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) concerns are prevalent, there is a crucial need to focus on a sector that accounts for 38% of all global CO₂ emissions and consumes 30% of global resources: the construction industry. In 2022, at COP27, the United Nations announced the Clean Construction Accelerator, a program with actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas production by up to 50% by 2030. A report by ARUP and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development suggests that half of building emissions come from embodied carbon, which is generated in the manufacturing and transportation of materials, not just in construction sites and buildings themselves. It is precisely in this scenario that we see an opportunity for the sector. What is the only renewable material in construction that retains carbon instead of emitting it? Wood.