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ABC was setup as part of the Government’s Transforming Construction Challenge(TCC) in 2019. Since then we have worked on over 100 + projects with the aim to help transform the built environment and to accelerate decarbonisation. The work we have done has given us great insights into what needs to be done if we are to realistically decarbonise the built environment. 

Last month we launched our ABC Blueprint, which is our approach to tackling #netzerocarbon by 2050, and sets out a framework for how the built environment can and should change to step up to the challenge. Today we share our learnings and insights at a major knowledge exchange event being held in Gloucestershire. 

We are launching four new case studies from real world projects and bring together sector leaders to foster collaboration and cooperation that is going to be needed to accelerate the pace of change. These projects range from a new build high spec development in Oxfordshire (Springfield Meadows) to a exemplar commercial development backed by Welsh Government (Crosshands) and a retrofit of a university building (Y Twyni ) and finally a community based energy sharing initiative in Nottingham (Trent Basin). 

There is still much to do to transform the construction sector as it still lags behind on research and innovation, often continues a business-as-usual approach, is slow to act and not adventurous enough. The most recent Committee on Climate Change Report highlights the building sector as off track to meet net zero by 2050 in the UK: ‘There has been no sustained reduction in emissions from buildings in the last decade’.  

ABC through its blueprint and associated are calling for 

  • greater uptake of both on-site and off-site renewable energy generation linking to homes and across communities
  • stronger commitments to energy efficiency – especially retrofit 
  • major investment in skills for the green, renewable, multi-discipline jobs of the future 
  • more support to build capacity in UK supply chains for renewable energy and energy efficiency in buildings 
  • better concept design that includes energy, nature and water considerations for new build
  • a greater focus on monitoring and measuring outcomes for comfort, carbon and cost – over the lifetime of buildings 
  • a change in the approach of the construction sector across many disciplines to focus on better outcomes and better performance of buildings.   

Dan Cook, the Active Building Centre’s Chief Executive, says “If we want to achieve net zero, and indeed achieve climate positive outcomes we need to be bolder.”   We at ABC, believe that people are central to achieving this, with Comfort, Carbon and Cost (our 3Cs) as the critical attributes to measure to get this agenda right across the built environment sector going forward. 

The ABC Blueprint draws together theory and practical examples from our team’s work in creating lab-based demonstrations and embedding active energy systems in a range of building types since 2019. We have good policy, practice and technology – now is a time for much more action to get to a climate positive future. 

Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan said:

“By harnessing renewable technology pioneered here in the UK, we can make homes and workplaces part of the move from expensive fossil fuels to clean, affordable energy – reducing costs for consumers and businesses and helping the UK meet its net zero ambitions.”

“The Active Building Centre is playing an important role in looking at how we can make sure that our homes and businesses are both carbon-neutral and cost-effective.” 

It is fitting that we are holding our showcase event, to promote knowledge exchange in the built environment sector, in the week that COP27 has started. Our event today brings together a wide range of industry leaders who will provide their views and ideas on what is needed next to accelerate this agenda in the years ahead.

Across the day we’ll hear from leaders from the built environment, from government to leading tech firms in the netzero space, including Welsh Government, Energy Systems Catapult (ESC), Manufacturing and Technology Centre (MTC), Igloo, Construction Innovation Hub and many others. Topics include: the challenge of retrofit, what’s next for the built environment and netzero and what innovation is needed to accelerate the decarbonisation journey.