'Base tender decisions on carbon, not cost'

Whole-life carbon assessments should be made a statutory requirement in procurement for public sector construction projects, according to a industry group.

In a letter to construction minister Lee Rowley, public sector-owned procurement organisation Scape and companies including Morgan Sindall, Willmott Dixon and Mace said tender decisions should be based on the lifecycle carbon of a project, not cost.

The letter said: “Project teams basing decisions on cost alone are inhibiting low-carbon construction. This approach is also short-sighted. Our own data suggests that the payback period from the operational savings created by sustainable building design is as little as six years on average, with only a marginal increase in capital cost.”

It added: “Collaboration to reduce carbon across the supply chain must be accelerated to ensure the next generation of public sector buildings and infrastructure sets new standards for achieving a sustainable future.”

Scape group chief executive Mark Robinson said it had a duty to create an industry-led response to tackle environmental challenges, including helping create new statutory obligations in procurement legislation. 

“Achieving this doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel – a lot of the immediate answers are hiding in plain sight,” he said. “We must work together as an industry to rethink our traditional approaches and ensure that net zero carbon is considered an integral part of our decision-making process.

“The government plays a huge role in delivering this change and by working together to share best practices, we firmly believe that we can deliver on the commitment to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.”

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