People, process and partners are the key to the success of Net Zero

Aerial Nuaire Site

With 80% of the UK’s 2050 building stock having already been built, there remains a major priority to decarbonise existing stock to meet climate targets. Stephen Flood looks at how. 

The UK Built Environment is responsible for 25% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions based on buildings and infrastructure, alone.  

The industry is on the cusp of significant change. As part of the UK Government’s net zero strategy and Ten-point Plan, the country will unlock £90 billion in investment to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050. As part of these measures, all publicly funded buildings must be carbon neutral. Amends to the building regulations (Part L and Part F) will enforce stricter building and infrastructure standards to ensure that both older and new buildings will not contribute to climate change and be fit for future generations.

Yet as mentioned many British buildings are some of the oldest and leakiest in Europe, and with 80% of the UK’s 2050 building stock having already been built, there remains a major priority to decarbonise existing stock to meet climate targets.

Organisations will be encouraged to assess the carbon impact of their spending, especially capital spend. They will be required to publish details on the overall carbon impact of their budget and major investment, including infrastructure decisions.

Yet, a truly successful net zero strategy is dependent on the combined efforts of companies across the supply chain. Most of all, it is reliant on people across industries and cultures to share the aim of completely negating the number of greenhouse gases produced by human activity. 

In business, a net zero strategy is very dependent on staff engagement and making progress to address barriers such as cost, guidance, control, policing, and the rate of technological development to support the infrastructure.

The industry needs to move away from a price-driven mentality, to ensure that buildings are designed, developed, and maintained to be the most energy efficient possible as standard.

New buildings will already be halfway through their lifespan by 2050 and must therefore be equipped to deliver the energy performance levels required for net zero. The implementation of a national retrofit programme, now, has the potential to not only remove the need for future retrofitting, but can also provide affordable housing by reducing energy bills, and delivering on the health benefits that are linked to improved air quality.

There is no one set guideline currently, or one rule of thumb, that companies can use to benchmark their own net zero achievements and expectations. There are many different approaches that suit different companies and markets, which then present various levels of success.  

Standards need to be set and regulated to save businesses time and effort in providing detail around carbon reporting, but also encourage competition within the environment. Collaboration within the industry should be at the heart of the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan, to share the perspectives and expertise of individual businesses.

As part of the Genuit Group’s Ventilation and Climate Division, Nuaire recently unveiled its net zero roadmap in a bid to reach full net zero status by 2050. The Group is committed to making investments that reduce its impact on the environment and, more specifically, will reduce its scopes 1 and 2 emissions by 66% by 2025, without offsetting. Furthermore, the group has made a pledge to net zero and in doing so committed to setting Science Based Targets against a 1.5°C climate change scenario by early 2023. 

Our strategy is based on tangible, sustainable changes, and is not reliant on complete carbon offsetting. The company sees the need to lower its carbon footprint as fundamental to ensuring a prosperous future. We’re committed to aligning with the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan, and maintaining our status within the industry as a company that goes above and beyond what is expected. 

Across the full division we are focused on our People, Processes, and Partners to reach our targets. Each of our business areas has specific targets that contribute to delivering toward net zero goals, from sales to waste management and packaging.

The company has already reduced carbon emissions within the Caerphilly HQ focusing on manufacturing site operations, along with an objective to undertake a gap analysis for implementing ISO 50001 across the division during 2022/3.

Net Zero Buildings

By 2015, we had achieved zero waste to landfill and extended the scope of ISO 14001 to our distribution warehouse. Working in partnership with our supply chain, we have implemented waste handling equipment, comprehensive environmental controls, and work practices.

In 2020, we reduced our carbon emissions for the Caerphilly HQ manufacturing site operations by a quarter and became a rated company on both the Ecovadis and CIPS sustainability indexes. We can produce TM65 reports for our product ranges as part of our goal to meet net zero and support our partners who are striving for this common goal.

As a large manufacturer, there will always be challenges in involving all staff across the business, especially those working on the shop floor, in the warehouse, within testing facilities, or abroad. We’ve found that our familial culture has endured since it was established in 1966, and the business continues to offer new incentives, apprenticeships, training, and personal development opportunities to all staff to nurture this pioneering culture.

We’ve already changed our company vehicle policy to include the adoption of electric vehicles and hybrid electric; this includes warehouse forklifts, fleet vehicles, and sales staff vehicles. It is a natural progression for us to introduce a wider employee incentive to move towards personal electric vehicles.

Furthermore, we plan to bring all operational sites in line with Scope 1 and 2 emissions criteria, as measures to help deliver this aim.

We can’t meet our net zero targets alone however. We work closely with our supply chain partners to promote our commitment to decarbonisation, influencing the businesses indirect operations under scope 3.

Smaller businesses and SMEs will, of course, need extra support, coaching, and mentoring to meet the new sustainability requirements of net zero emissions by 2050. It is a bold target that will require significant investment in changes within the immediate future, not just within 30 years.

We often see resistance from smaller companies that fear they lack the resources and skills required to calculate carbon data or understand the key interventions needed to achieve net zero. For example, the need to rely on upskilling their small teams or seeking external assistance, but with the right help and support, it is possible to implement the changes needed to make a difference.

Where SME businesses need help, we work with partners – large and small – to share best practices, assist in training needs, and has introduced capacity-building thought leadership to the industry.

As an industry, we are lucky to be part of the solution to climate change. Indoor air quality continues to be a public health emergency - with most of us spending 90% of our time indoors and indoor air proven to be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Through all of our net zero endeavours, we must still provide better ventilation for better homes and better health.

It’s time to better understand how we can positively impact our environment as an industry, and by working together, we can tackle these net zero goals.

Stephen Flood is QSHE Manager at Nuaire 

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