National engineering specialist and ECA Member SES Engineering Services (SES) has been appointed, through the ECA, as a Construction Leadership Council (CLC) CO2nstructZero Business Champion, to help drive industry efforts to meet the government’s target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Read the full press release about the announcement here.

With COP26 around the corner, SES’ Technical Director, Paul Newby, shares his perspective on Net Zero.

A key part of my role is to lead the continual development SES’ net zero carbon strategy as we journey to become net zero carbon by 2045. The beginnings of my journey started in the late 1990’s and accelerated with the implementation of Building Regulations Part L:2002.

This was an awakening, and it had a profound effect on me; I had been designing building services for 15 years at that point, however low energy buildings were rare and carbon emissions were very new. I realised that I needed to change the way I approached design from both a philosophical and practical perspective; the old ways just weren’t good enough.

How things have changed! We are going through an industry transformation where the pace of change continues to accelerate. Building physics engineers have become building performance engineers; IT & building management systems are becoming smart buildings; and Part L compliance as a measure of real building performance has, thankfully, been consigned to history.

Renewable energy trends have been and gone and the most exciting technologies are still in front of us. New barometers of performance (such as NABERS) have hit the market with strong impact, and there are more customers with demonstrable carbon ambitions that challenge us all to keep progressing and improving.

Energy and carbon can frequently dominate the agenda, but for me, success requires more holistic thinking to align user experience, health and wellbeing, enterprise performance and asset value and wider environmental sustainability targets with decarbonisation.

We now also talk about carbon emissions beyond our projects of course, and for me COP26 should be an epoch for construction to take action to address our own Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. This is a fantastic opportunity, not only to reduce our impact on the planet but to change the culture of construction forever.

Collaborative and integrated working, sustainable procurement, data-driven decision-making, a diverse and inclusive ‘can-do’ culture, embracing technology and looking for a better way are at the very heart of what COP26 means to me. As a sector we can truly lead the way on this and, as well as the obvious ethical benefits, there are great business opportunities to inspire us to be different and be better.

As a CLC CO2nstructZero Business Champion, we are proud to be working with the ECA to capture the zeitgeist of COP26 and to raise awareness within our business and with fellow members.

It has never been a more exciting time to be an engineer, or indeed to think about my own carbon footprint! It feels like being back to 20 years ago when I had my epiphany, and that this a new time for profound change to happen.

As for the next 20 years… I think this could be the most exciting period that construction has ever experienced.