Low carbon and sustainable construction

Industrial strategy is about the whole of Government working in partnership with industry to set out and deliver long-term plans to secure jobs and growth. During the first year of industrial strategy, the Government and industry set out these long-term ambitions across five themes: skills, technologies, access to finance, procurement and sector partnerships. Eleven sector strategies have been published, setting out long-term ambitions to ensure that the UK is in the best possible position to compete in the global race.

As part of this whole economy initiative, the UK construction industry and Government launched Construction 2025 - the industrial strategy for construction, in July 2013. It is a partnership between the UK construction industry and the Government, and sets out a vision and four long-term ambitions of significant reductions in construction costs, time taken to complete projects, greenhouse gas emissions; and major improvements in exports. The UK has a world-class science and research base which supports the development of innovative solutions in a number of priority areas for construction. Research and innovation will therefore play a key part in helping deliver the strategy’s ambitions - including low carbon and sustainable construction.  

Delivering low carbon growth: The Green Construction Board

One of the key elements of Construction 2025 is low carbon and sustainable construction. The Green Construction Board, made up of industry professionals and Government, will be the key delivery body working to achieve the ambition of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment by 2025 (against a 1990 baseline).

In addition to the well-documented environmental gains, the transition to a low carbon economy also presents the UK construction industry with terrific opportunities for growth. The global green and sustainable building industry is forecast to grow at an annual rate of nearly 23% between now and 2017.


The Green Construction Board is well placed to take this important growth agenda forward. The publication in March last year of the Low Carbon Construction Routemap creates a real focus, and provides a better understanding of the opportunities, risks and key interventions.

The Green Construction Board: Work So Far

As part of the Green Construction Board, there are six working groups to consider key issues and deliver a comprehensive programme of activity. Much of this work is supported by research and innovation projects. These include:

  • Mapping of the Real Estate Life-cycle for effective policy interventions – this involved a comprehensive overview of the real estate life-cycle, its key participants and intervention points, with the objective of establishing the most effective points for carbon reduction policies to target.

  • Infrastructure Carbon Review – a joint publication by HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, aimed at making carbon a key part of infrastructure investment decision-making in the UK – whether construction, operation or maintenance. The report and supporting documents make the business case that reducing carbon reduces cost. The low carbon agenda not only brings resource and energy efficiency, but can also stimulate innovation and better solutions.

  • Energy Performance Gap in Non-Domestic Buildings – a situation and solutions report and promotional material for a non-expert audience on the energy performance gap. Evidence has shown that operational energy use in buildings can often be more than double the amount predicted. The project looked at how the energy gap arises and how it can be reduced.

In parallel, there is work with key cross-cutting themes that apply generically across the construction industry, recognising however that each market sector will have its own particular challenges and solutions. These cross-cutting themes are ‘Knowledge and Skills’, ‘Greening the Industry’ and ‘Promotion’.

For further information please contact Nicola Walters, Policy Adviser in the Construction Unit at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (020 7215 5191; E-mail: nicola.walters@bis.gsi.
) or visit


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