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Industry must change to meet low carbon challenge

THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY FACES THE LARGEST change-management programme since Victorian times if it is to meet the low carbon agenda, according to a recently published industry report. The Innovation and Growth Team (IGT), which is drawn from the construction industry, was tasked by the government to consider how the construction sector could meet the low carbon agenda. The report said the construction industry had engaged positively with the sustainability issue with many examples of cutting edge practice. But the Climate Change Act calls for the net UK carbon account in 2050 to be at least 80 per cent lower than the 1990 baseline, which will require a ‘quantum change’ in the industry’s response to this challenge, says the document. The report highlights a number of themes that government and industry need to engage with to rise to the carbon challenge. First of all, meeting the UK’s commitment to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions will affect every aspect of the built environment. The scale of the necessary change is considerable, but there is much that could be done now, particularly with the existing building stock. The report states that transforming the built environment to low carbon could provide the industry with a 40-year programme of work and act as a springboard to growth for more than 200,000 small businesses in the sector. Creating a low carbon construction industry would develop skills and expertise that would be of great value to other sectors. Finally, the report recommends that government and

industry need to work closely together to identify the best ways to stimulate the market for low carbon and energy efficiency measures.

CPA calls on industry to drive recovery

Bill Bolsover, the Construction Product Association’s (CPA) chairman, has called on industry to play its part in helping deliver the economic recovery. Speaking to an audience of more than 500 guests at the CPA’s autumn lunch, Bolsover said he welcomed the political stability that the coalition government had brought and urged industry to respond positively to the recent cuts in public spending.

Paul Morrell, who led the IGT, said: ‘Meeting the low carbon agenda is both a challenge and an opportunity for the construction industry. It will require radical change to the way we do business, as well as government action to meet the scale of the challenge. There are no easy answers. I hope this report will mark the start of a detailed collaboration between industry and government to address this complex issue.’ The report will now be considered by the government, which will respond to the recommendations next year. Construction minister, Mark Prisk, commented: ‘This report is a valuable contribution to the debate around how the construction industry can play its part in the UK meeting its low carbon responsibilities. We will carefully consider this important document and the government will respond to these detailed recommendations next year.’

EAL: support vocational training

EAL has called for training providers, employers and the government to work together to deliver the government’s skills strategy.

Speaking after the EAL sponsored Strategic Issues Meeting, Elizabeth Bonfield, head of business development at EAL, said: ‘In the current climate we’re only going to succeed if we work together. The government has highlighted the need for a balanced economy and that is only going to come from achieving parity between

6 ECA Today Winter 2010

vocational and academic training. For too long, vocational training has been seen as a second class option to university, but we need to place those who are academically talented and those who are skilled on an equal plane if we are to achieve economic success.’

The Strategic Issues Meeting was attended by key figures from the training sector. The organisers brought together independent training providers, colleges and decision makers in education and training with the aim of

determining the best means of moving the sector forward at a time when vocational training has never been more high profile. Bonfield added: ‘Vocational training embodies the values which are dear to the government’s skills strategy. Vocational training is fair, as it is available to everyone, and it gives the learner the responsibility and the freedom to determine their own destiny – whether they rise through the ranks to the boardroom or stay on the shop floor.’

Bolsover said that even though £25bn was expected to disappear from public capital spending on construction over the next four years, this sum represents only six per cent of construction spend. He commented: ‘Surely we can make up from the private sector far more than we are losing from the public spending, given the many major projects that have to be delivered.’

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Elizabeth Bonfield, head of business development at EAL


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