Construction Methods to Tackle the Climate Crisis
How The Climate Crisis Is Driving Local Authority Decision Making
Extreme weather events around the world confirm that not only is the climate urgency very real, it also demands immediate action. Some of the measures needed to slow and eventually reverse climate change will need massive investment – others will be more a matter of making different decisions about how we choose to build.
Whatever actions are chosen it’s clear that tackling the climate crisis can no longer be at the periphery – it has to be at the heart of policy making at national and local levels.
The built environment accounts for around 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint. For many existing structures this means a colossal and expensive retrofit programme to upgrade insulation and install renewable energy and low-carbon heating and cooling. There’s no way around the fact that this is going to be an expensive investment. But there are proven solutions including installing SIPs as a more thermally efficient wrap or infill for buildings.
Future-Proofing New Builds
For new buildings, including schools and housing, the priority has to be to ensure that new buildings are future-proof. They must be designed and built to be highly energy-efficient from the outset and with the lowest possible levels of embodied carbon.
Avoiding adding to the climate crisis with new building programmes is largely about decision-making rather than cost. A building system like i-SIP has a high structural timber content. The building is, in effect, locking up carbon that would otherwise be in the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
Panelised offsite construction also guarantees the thermal performance of the building straight out of the factory. Energy efficiency standards up to Passivhaus can be designed into the structure and replicated in practice.
No Extra Cost
With a highly standardised product, there’s no cost penalty and greater surety when it comes to achieving like-for-like thermal performance compared to a traditional build. Traditional construction also relies on materials with high levels of embodied carbon which will increasingly have to be tracked and accounted for.
One straightforward and positive step towards tackling the climate crisis would be to specify MMC and panelised offsite as the preferred building method on new projects. This will guarantee performance and avoid the risk of future upgrade costs.