Despite the common misconception, PR isn’t about spin. PR must be honest, informative and meaningful to create an impact. ‘Fluffy pieces’ aren’t going to cut it if your ultimate goal is to create a strong and reputable image of your company – particularly in this day and age, and this is especially important to remember when it comes to climate change.
This is evident with many companies appointing ESG consultants to assess the environmental impact of its operations and devise a responsible strategy to minimise their impact. It is crucial that you are doing the work before we (your PR agency) can shout about it, and communications on such topics must be sensitive, authentic and honest.
As any M25 protestor will tell you, climate change is the biggest threat we have faced in modern times. With building and construction currently responsible for an astounding 39% of global energy related carbon emissions, the sector – quite rightly – is being urged to take immediate and further action to curb this.
Operational carbon accounts for 28% of these global energy related carbon emissions whilst 11% comes from embodied carbon produced by materials and the construction process itself. * Operational carbon is shrinking due to increased energy efficiency measures and grid decarbonisation. However, it is only one piece of the puzzle and embodied carbon is currently unregulated and is increasingly significant.
Assessing and managing both embodied and operational carbon in built environment projects, or in other words, taking a ‘whole life’ carbon approach, to tackle carbon emissions is crucial to meet the net zero target in the built environment sector by 2050.
What is Part Z?
Part Z is a proposed Building Regulations amendment which is hoped to be enforced by 2025 for domestic buildings. It considers embodied carbon and proposes that all major projects will have to produce carbon assessments which consider the construction process and not just operational energy and carbon as is the case now.
It proposes that the embodied carbon emissions are capped on all major construction projects – however, this would be a staggered process. Initially this would be capped through limits on upfront embodied carbon, and then eventually covering all aspects of embodied carbon.
Part Z does not impose any specific methods on how to deliver reductions, this would be up to individual developers. However, it recommends using products and materials that have an Environmental Product Declaration to make the process easier – which we know some our clients are starting to do already. Requesting EPD’s from suppliers and a commitment to select products with an EPD will help drive innovation to lower-carbon products as well as ensuring you are doing your part during construction to reduce your carbon footprint.
Account Manager Niamh McBride attended FOOTPRINT+, a property conference focused on how a net zero carbon future can be achieved in the sector, earlier this year and found the talk on Part Z incredibly insightful – and important. It is already supported by developers, contractors, architects, engineers, project managers and more across the industry.
The document can be read in full here: https://part-z.uk/proposal
What does this have to do with PR?
As UK regulators continue to crack down on greenwashing, it serves as a reminder that company’s need to be making meaningful strides to be environmentally sustainable – and whilst this can be on a smaller scale through committing to measures to increase biodiversity on site or making internal changes within your company’s operations, there are also ways to get involved with the conversation on a wider level.
Demonstrating that you care about this issue from a practical perspective will place your company in a great position from a reputation and PR standpoint – corporate social responsibility has never been so significant to a company’s survival, and it is key for organisations to ‘walk the walk’ not just ‘talk the talk’.
Signing up to Part Z or even getting involved from a policy-making level is a fantastic way to position your organisation as one that cares about doing the work and making impactful change from the top-down. It can even serve as an opportunity for us to shout about all the measures you have already incorporated during construction to reduce your carbon footprint, and share best practice across the industry – helping to position you as a responsible company.
To meet net zero goals, it’s important to undertake whole life carbon assessments of the built environment – the UK is already behind in this respect, the Netherlands legislated this ten years ago whilst the EU has initiated a study outlining how all building-related emissions can be mitigated by 2050.*
It’s clear this is a sector-wide issue that will require co-operation from all sides to truly tackle the effect construction is having on the environment – so if you are truly committed to a zero-carbon construction industry, why not be part of the conversation?
If you would like support on your ESG communications, please get in touch with Niamh at firstname.lastname@example.org