The importance of resilience in the net-zero journey
With the UK having been the first country to set a 2050 net-zero target (back in 2019), companies throughout the country (and beyond) are pledging either how they plan to meet this legislation, or ambitiously promising to beat it by 10, 20 or even 25 years. But is there an important aspect of the net-zero journey that we’re collectively missing?
When it comes to pledging net zero, a lot of companies in the construction industry are placing a heavy focus on how they plan to build more sustainably going forwards. This often includes the use of modern methods of construction (MMC) and modular homes, which are more sustainable than traditional building methods and materials. This is because MMC has more schedule certainty, less material waste, and a lot more potential for recycling.
Not only is the process of building these homes a lot more sustainable, but the homes themselves are then typically a lot more energy efficient with an EPC rating of A. This means a lot less wasted energy and a smaller carbon footprint for the development overall.
Working with what you've got
However, Carl Elefante (former president of the American Institute of Architects) said: 'The greenest building is the one that already exists'. Should we therefore be placing more focus on the sustainability of our existing infrastructure and how it will see us through for many years to come?
With the climate emergency very much upon us, we must start to prioritise nature-based solutions where we can. Changing weather patterns and mass extinction in the natural world have a direct knock-on effect for people and wildlife. Not only are a large number of people already lacking sufficient water, but the changing climate also increases the risk of climate shocks like droughts as well as the risk of outbreaks of new diseases.
In order to protect the people and wildlife already in harm’s way, we must change the discussion surrounding sustainability and move away from talking solely about net zero. Construction must take into account extreme heat and increasing floods, and new infrastructure must be built with resilience for the future in mind. A zero emission home is only truly sustainable if it stands the test of time.