Major clients commit to low-carbon construction ‘incentives’

Seven of the UK’s biggest infrastructure clients have publicly committed to specifying low-carbon construction in contracts and setting dates to phase out fossil fuels.

National Highways, Lower Thames Crossing, Heathrow, Sellafield, Anglian Water and Northumbrian Water said yesterday (29 April) that they would provide “incentives” in contracts to tackle three major pollution sources – diesel, concrete and steel.

The ‘Five Client Carbon Commitments’ pledge, initiated by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), was announced at an event attended by new construction minister and CLC co-chair Alan Mak.

In a statement released this morning (30 April), the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority announced it had also signed the pledge.

Pledgers have flexibility in how they incorporate decarbonisation incentives into contracts. In practice, clients could offer financial rewards or allocate future work based on carbon performance, Construction News understands.

The firms pledged to set dates for phasing out fossil fuels and eliminating the most carbon intensive carbon and steel products. They also committed to sign up to a common standard for carbon reporting, PAS 2080.

In his first speech as construction minister, Mak said: “While I’ve only been in this job for a few weeks, it’s precisely this sort of initiative that makes me so thrilled now to be the minister for construction.”

The clients that have initially signed up to the pledge represent decades of construction work and tens of billions of pounds of infrastructure investment.

Matt White, programme director at the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said: “We are pledging our support to a series of commitments, including the use of low-carbon concrete, green steel and reducing the use of fossil fuels during future construction.”

Both Anglian Water and Northumbrian Water have committed to major infrastructure upgrades by 2030, as part of the £96m AMP8 investment cycle, while the decommissioning of Sellafield is expected to last for at least 100 years.

Construction on the Lower Thames Crossing is expected to last until 2032, if the government approves the project in June.

A joint venture between Bouygues and Murphy was awarded the tunnelling contract in December, with Skanska and Balfour Beatty signed up for different sections of road.

East West Rail, the Environment Agency and National Grid are expected to sign up in the next few months.

Mace chief executive and CLC co-chair Mark Reynolds told the launch event: “I truly believe that the UK is the leader in net-zero carbon and biodiversity, and this is an opportunity for us to take a leadership position across the globe.”

The Five Client Carbon Commitments pledge

  1. Procure for low-carbon construction and provide incentives in contracts.
  2. Set phase-out dates for fossil fuel use.
  3. Eliminate the most carbon intensive concrete products.
  4. Eliminate the most carbon intensive steel products.
  5. Sign up to PAS 2080, allowing a common standard in carbon management and reporting.

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