Private-owned construction firm Wates Group has committed to new goals that target zero waste from all onsite operations and zero carbon emissions from operations and vehicle fleets by 2025.
Wates Group, which employs almost 4,000 people, will use the next 12 months to engage staff and collect data to set accurate benchmarks as it targets zero impacts from its operations.
The company has outlined switching to an all-electric commercial vehicle fleet, eliminating single-use plastics from supply chains and operations and planting 5,000 trees annually as steps it will introduce to reach its 2025 targets.
Wates Group’s chief executive David Allen said: “We have established bold, ambitious, deliberately stretching targets for creating zero harm to the environment by 2025 because we believe that by committing to something extraordinary, we can achieve something extraordinary. Together with our partners, we will reduce waste and carbon, and improve our natural environment for generations to come.
“Our industry has made and continues to make an unhelpful contribution to the global climate crisis. We have a responsibility to reduce and eventually to reverse the impact we’re having on our planet and are determined that everyone in the Wates Group will do what is necessary to make a real and lasting difference.”
Wates Group will invest in sustainable building techniques, ensure that all sites or frameworks deliver at least one nature restoration and enhancement project and will also organise sustainability placements for graduates and apprenticeships.
The new zero impact targets build on solid efforts to date from the group to minimise its environmental impact. Since 2016, Wates has increased the procurement of renewable energy from 4% to 74%. In 2019, the company offset 1,042 tonnes of CO2 by supporting international offset projects.
With approximately 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions attributable to the built environment, the sector has collaboratively pushed for businesses to set more ambitious goals, either through science-based targets or via the World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) call for companies in the built environment to tackle embodied carbon.
The WorldGBC issued a new report outlining how companies in the sector can focus on both operational and embodied carbon to reach net-zero emission buildings by 2050.
The report notes that operational emissions (from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings) account for 28% of the built environment sector’s 40% contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining 11% derives from embodied carbon emissions found in the material and construction processes across a building’s entire lifecycle.
Read edie’s exclusive interview with the WorldGBC’s chief executive Cristina Gamboa here.