10.06.2021

Blog: Supporting carbon reduction through procurement

In this month’s Smart Infrastructure Blog for Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, Charmaine Hughes, Head of Frameworks (North West Construction Hub) and Peter Yates, Vice Chairman, National Association of Construction Frameworks (NACF) and Regional Framework Director at Constructing West Midlands (CWM) reflect on the NACF’s journey towards trialling the Carbon Reduction Code for the Built Environment and the development of a carbon reduction KPI to be rolled out through NACF contracts.

The National Association of Construction Frameworks (NACF) play a key role in driving construction procurement best practice across local government.  We actively partner with the Local Government Association (LGA), the Cabinet Office, BEIS and many other leading organisations to help shape the future of local government construction. Between us, NACF members deliver over £6.8bn of construction, consultancy and infrastructure works per year. We share key objectives to build quality assets to cost and time whilst ensuring we deliver social value through direct, targeted support that drives the local economy, employment and skills.

‘Understanding the issues faced by the public sector, many of which have declared their own climate emergencies, spurred the NACF members on to understand what that means at a local level and what the NACF can do to better support clients to achieve their net zero obligations through the support and commitment of contractor partners.’ Charmaine Hughes, Programme Manager and Head of Frameworks at Manchester City Council

Our partnerships with the private sector give us a unique insight into the construction market and enable us to better inform local and central government through our market intelligence and understanding of the supply chain.

Understanding the issues faced by the public sector, many of which have declared their own climate emergencies, spurred the NACF members on to understand what that means at a local level and what the NACF can do to better support clients to achieve their net zero obligations through the support and commitment of contractor partners.

In late 2020, a discussion involving the Vice Chair of the NACF, Constructing West Midlands, the North West Construction Hub and the NACF’s specialist Environmental Sub-group raised the importance of fellow NACF members understanding the value of the strategic and collaborative partnerships that exist between the framework providers and local government and how best to strengthen these relationships. The goal is to ensure that, against a backdrop of Brexit, the global pandemic and the UK legislation to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, local government can achieve best value in the delivery of local and regional construction in construction programmes.

Through contacts within the Construction Leadership Council, the NACF became aware of the draft Carbon Reduction Code for the Built Environment developed by the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction’s (CSIC) Achieving Net Zero Cross-Industry Working Group. This cross-industry group recognised collaboration within value chains is the key to success when endeavouring to reduce carbon.

The Carbon Reduction Code outlines a method to enable industry to understand and measure progress in developing and delivering net zero carbon plans. CSIC invited the NACF to collaborate on the identification of a key performance indicator (KPI) which could be rolled out to construction contractors for review, adoption and monitoring over a 12-month period.

A sub-group of the NACF formed a dedicated Task and Finish Group, in collaboration with Willmott Dixon’s former Regional Head of Sustainability, to develop this approach and to test its efficacy from a contractor perspective. A KPI has now been established which will be trialled across NACF contractor partners, enabling NACF members to track the carbon reduction impact of contractor partners within their regional framework areas. The KPI encourages contractor partners to establish Net Zero Plans to achieve carbon emission reduction. They will monitor whether these plans are in place or in development and will monitor contractor’s achievements in delivering the plans; the level of effort employed by contractors to reduce carbon emissions and to capture and measure any innovative approaches implemented.

Early feedback on the KPI has been positive.  We will report back on the progress of the NACF trial of the Code in the coming months and look forward to continuing our part of the collaboration developing the draft Carbon Reduction Code.

We will be giving a short presentation on the NACF trial at the launch of the Carbon Reduction Code for the Built Environment on 17 June 2021.

Register for the Carbon Reduction Code for the Built Environment launch event here.

Read more information about the Carbon Reduction Code here.

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