EXCLUSIVE: Internal engagement ‘vital’ for a low carbon construction sector

The construction industry must try to drive sustainability further into distribution, from raw material extraction right the way through to completed construction projects, says CEMEX's Andy Spencer.

Speaking to edie, Spencer, CEMEX’s sustainability director, called for a more holistic approach to sustainability throughout the construction sector and placed internal sector engagement as a vital step towards a low carbon economy.

He stressed the need for a closer industry bond between material providers, contractors, construction industry designers and clients to push sustainability throughout the construction process.

At the global material providers book launch in London last night, Spencer said: “CEMEX has been working on carbon emissions, energy and water consumption, waste and biodiversity for some time now and we can offer others in the construction industry far more in terms of sustainability than what they are actually taking from us, which is why strong partnerships are needed to drive progress,” he said.

One example of this, said Spencer, is driving biodiversity in construction itself not just at a company’s operational sites. The company is looking to expand its work on biodiversity and will aim to take this outside of its own sites and further into distribution.

However, challenging the company’s overall sustainability vision is the legislation imposed on the sector by the Government. Spencer said that although Government legislation, such as eliminating energy levels for parts of the industry, had benefited the sector, others have caused barriers.

“There are elements of legislation that are very challenging, for example some of the UK specific green taxation measures are making it quite difficult from a competitiveness point of view for the longer-term, in terms of more energy intensive cement manufacturing,” said Spencer.

On the other hand Spencer commended the Government for incentivising biodiversity and nature conservation and its plans to provide the industry with relief packages to encourage those in the industry to perform better.

Also attending the launch was Energy Minister Michael Fallon who, in his speech, said the construction industry will be the key sector to lift the UK out of the economic downturn and help it transition to a low carbon economy, mainly through innovative products and solutions coming out of the sector.

Fallon said that there are challenges the sector faces in the current economic climate to maintain the capacity for future growth, which he claimed was “a perennial challenge for construction when you’re coping with reduced demand”.

Agreeing with Fallon, Spencer said that the UK’s climate change commitment will be the industry’s biggest challenge. The sector’s global target is to reduce CO2 by 80% by 2050.

Leigh Stringer

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