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Construction Innovation Hub at the heart of COP26 debate

David Philp
David Philp 12-11-2021

The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) is drawing to a close, and the Hub has been on the ground discussing with various stakeholders how our work advances actions that will play their part in securing a global net zero. Here, Impact Director, David Philp, reflects on his COP26 journey.

COP has been an amazing forum for sharing innovation and will undoubtedly provide ongoing impetus and exchanges of fresh ideas for the role of enablers like the Hub in delivering low-carbon, value-based solutions that are technologically and digitally advanced.

We have discussed with many actors across the globe and shown how our work has provided a clear focus on areas that demonstrate the ways in which we need to change the nature of our interventions in the built environment to achieve strategic sustainable and resilient outcomes.

COP26 reminded us that we are, as an industry, accountable for more than 40 per cent of CO2 emissions, so we are both a massive brake or accelerator on climate resilience depending on our actions.  With the uptake of the Hub’s concepts, we have a massive opportunity in construction to improve reliance and decarbonisation, especially using our Government Soft Landings tools coupled with the UK BIM Framework as a means to exchange information relating to carbon and simulate and test impact of performance.

This is not just in the context of building new projects such as schools and roads in a sustainable way, but also dealing with the 99.5 per cent of our built environment that already exists. We must focus on looking at ways to decarbonise the existing retained estate, which will need data insight to better understand current levels of performance and retrospectively make them more resilient to changing conditions.  The Hub is working with NHS Scotland, who share this vision, to create digital estate frameworks and tools to make sure we can do better with the assets we already have.

To do this we need to focus on better usage of data and insight to drive change, as well as developing a better recognition of other important factors such as value-orientated business models and improving industry capacity to deliver on sector modernisation.

One of my personal COP26 highlights was visiting the GenZero school prototype at CSIC. GenZero is the next generation of school designs, with long-term, whole-life value in mind. The proposed platform and its kit of parts illustrated the benefits of how a factory setting will allow the building of a school estate with minimal waste and carbon. The Hub is proud to be one of the partners on this project and we continue to champion digitally enabled platform approaches.

My own takeaway was the momentum for change and climate action, especially amongst the younger generations who were actively participating and volunteering at the event. Their energy and drive will go a long way in helping tackle our climate crisis, and I hope the nations attending COP will work constructively to agree a way forward in tackling this existential crisis we face.

Blog post written by David Philp, Impact Director for the Construction Innovation Hub.