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Climate Emergency Collaboration Challenge Project

12 August 2021

Early engagement and closer collaboration are vital for a zero carbon built environment

The University of Edinburgh in collaboration with a number of industry partners has published its Phase 1 project report exploring capacity building for zero and low carbon innovation in construction and the built environment.

The report examines where the University and other public sector clients must work more collaboratively with construction partners to ensure the delivery of zero-carbon buildings.

Managed by the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI), the project built on the university’s existing expertise of low carbon solutions in the construction sector and brought together key players in construction and infrastructure, academia, and architecture and design, to harness expert knowledge and experience and drive meaningful action.

"As we work towards a net zero economy, it is imperative that the estates of Scotland’s institutions match this common goal. This phase 1 Report from Edinburgh University, in response to SFC's Climate Emergency Collaboration Challenge, clearly shows how collaboration between construction, academia, architecture and design sectors can lead to some real green solutions. This will help in removing the barriers to zero-carbon built developments across the higher and further education sector.” Mike Cantlay, Chair of SFC

Decarbonising the built environment must be a priority for clients

Decarbonisation of the built environment is a complex issue, and Scotland cannot achieve its ambitious climate targets without new approaches to tackling this challenge. Universities and the public sector can demonstrate climate leadership, and are reflecting this into strategies and targets, but these climate ambitions are often not fully realised into estates programmes and delivered into operational building performance.

“The university’s complex estate presents many unique challenges, which we must overcome as part of the university’s commitment to net zero across all of our international operations by 2040. We recognise the importance of decarbonising our estate, not just to remove our own emissions, but also because of our role as a global sustainability leader and an anchor institution in a world heritage city. Realising our ambitions requires a whole institution approach with low or zero carbon embedded as a key priority into a long term programme, and harnessing both specialist and academic expertise to lead the way for higher and further education, and for the wider public sector estate.” Grant Ferguson – Interim Director of Estates

We need a new collaborative approach

Clients and constructors must establish early engagement and a more collaborative approach that builds and embeds improvements in s capability, capacity and culture to drive better design and delivery. Whilst the success of these actions requires collaboration from all parties, the onus must be on the client to drive this forward. Public sector climate ambitions will only be delivered where critical recommendations and actions are adopted.

This report sets out a new collaborative approach:

This project is helping to build capacity for better building performance through more collaborative approaches to the design and construction process by sharing its findings and recommendations across the public sector and into the construction industry.

This project has been funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) as part of the Climate Emergency Collaboration Challenge, set up to fund new business and academic partnerships to tackle climate change and assist Scotland’s transition to a net zero emissions economy.

Phase two of the project explores the development of post-construction emission reduction tools. A report will be published in late summer 2021.

Read the full report

Read the executive summary

With special thanks to Scottish Futures Trust, Zero Waste Scotland, EAUC (Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education), AUDE (Association of University Directors of Estates), APUC (Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges), CSIC (Construction Scotland Innovation Centre), Robertson Construction, Country Architecture, Sustainable Procurement Limited and A&DS

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