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The UK’s leading trade body for builders says the construction industry and any future government must act immediately if the country is to have any chance of meeting its ambitious 2050 zero carbon targets.

In its report Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon Future, the National Federation of Builders’ (NFB) Major Contractors Group (MCG) warned against the perils of inaction, but also highlighted the opportunities for those who innovate in terms of reducing carbon emissions and waste.

In 2010, the UK Government’s own statistics revealed that construction directly influenced 47% of the country’s carbon emissions, while DEFRA statistics from March this year show the industry is responsible for an even more alarming 61% of waste.

Nick Sangwin, said, “This report is not a document to sit on shelves gathering dust, it is designed to galvanise the sector into action, to see the opportunities and to lead the way towards zero carbon by 2050. It is critical that those within the construction sector are stepping forward and implementing a real step-change in the way they do business.”

Mark Wakeford, Chair of the NFB’s Major Contractors Group, commented: “The year 2050 might seem a long time away but it’s really not much time to radically change our industry. We must start now and the Government, in whatever guise they return, must lead the way and make this a firm priority post election. Anyone still operating the same way as they are today in 20 years’ time will be lucky to still be in business. There are no excuses: Government, contractors, the supply chain, manufacturers, designers and the trades must all embrace the challenge now, as highlighted in our recommendations.

“To make this happen, domestic housing requires a Government spend of £15 billion [€17.4 billion] a year, industrial and commercial property and infrastructure requires up to £10 billion [€11.6 billion] a year, flood defences £1 billion [€1.2 billion] a year, and the power sector £20 billion [€23.3 billion] a year. But it’s about more than just money: the transformation required in the construction industry is multi-faceted and it is critical that Industry and Government take a joined-up approach to bring together developments in skills, procurement, design, products and materials, transport and more.”

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