Ahead of COP26, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) updates its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment to include bold new requirements for addressing embodied emissions and publishes best practice for carbon offsetting for the built environment.

LONDON – 9am BST, 15 September 2021 – Today, WorldGBC announces an update to the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (the Commitment), expanding its scope to recognise enhanced leadership action in tackling embodied carbon emissions from the building and construction sector. To accompany the Commitment update and its reduction-first approach to decarbonisation, WorldGBC has also published Advancing Net Zero Whole Life Carbon: Offsetting Residual Emissions from the Building and Construction Sector, providing guidance for how the sector should compensate for its total carbon impacts.

The built environment is responsible for almost 40% of global carbon emissions, with 10% from embodied carbon from materials and construction processes.

To limit warming to no more than 1.5°C as set out in the Paris Agreement, the #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition has called for emissions from buildings globally to be halved by 2030, and to reach net zero life-cycle emissions for all buildings by no later than 2050.

As part of the efforts to accelerate these goals, WorldGBC announces an update to its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment to promote and inspire leadership action towards addressing embodied carbon as well as emissions from building operations.

New requirements for the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment

In addition to the Commitment requiring all building assets within direct control to account for all operational carbon emissions (released from the energy used to heat, light, cool and power them) by 2030, from 1st January 2023 businesses and organisations will also be required to:

  • Account for whole lifecycle impact of all new buildings and major renovations by mandating they are built to be highly efficient, powered by renewables, with maximum reductions in embodied carbon and compensation of all residual upfront emissions.
  • Track and report business activities that influence the indirect reduction of whole life carbon emissions.

This ambitious step is expected to drive similar levels of action from the sector as reported in the recently released Advancing Net Zero Status Report 2021, which highlights how signatories are embedding the Commitment requirements into their business operations, and help the sector advance its decarbonisation goals.

How the Commitment drives decarbonisation with a reduction-first approach

WorldGBC’s Whole Life Carbon Vision for the sector includes a roadmap for the decarbonisation of the built environment, with critical 2030 interim goals and total decarbonisation by 2050. It is outcomes based and action focused, requiring signatories to develop a bespoke roadmap to decarbonise their portfolios by following best practice principles prioritising reduction of energy consumption and embodied carbon, and the use of renewable energy.

This leadership action of Commitment signatories, reinforced with the additional focus on maximum reductions of embodied carbon, means that all new developments and renovations will also prioritise the efficient use of low carbon materials and construction processes, reduce reliance on fossil fuels in construction, and support the transition to a fully decarbonised built environment.

The Commitment promotes aggressive reduction-first strategies, with residual emissions being compensated for via best practice offsets. Until reductions in fossil fuel consumption and emissions become business as usual as part of energy systems and supply chain production processes, there will be some reliance on offsets in order to achieve the balance of net zero emissions. However, through the leadership of Commitment signatories driving demand for low carbon materials and practices, this is expected to reduce over time.

The critical need for best practice carbon offsetting that drives positive systemic change in the built environment

To encourage a best practice approach to decarbonisation, and facilitate net positive impact in pursuit of net zero emissions, WorldGBC has published a guidance document for the sector — Advancing Net Zero Whole Life Carbon: Offsetting Residual Emissions from the Building and Construction Sector. 

As part of the transition towards total sector decarbonisation that also enables tangible environment and social co-benefits in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, the guidance document promotes a best practice-approach to offsetting detailed in three principles:

  1. Prioritise emissions reduction 

Minimise the need for offsets in the first place via best practice sustainable construction and operation. This means reducing energy demand, shifting away from fossil fuels, and using 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

  1. Compensate for residual emissions 

For any residual emissions – those which cannot be abated – invest in carbon reduction or storage projects that are credible, unique, additional and permanent, as determined via independent third party verification.

  1. Advance tangible benefits 

Direct investment into offsets that store carbon and provide additional tangible environmental and/or social improvements, particularly those that have additional nature-based co-benefits or co-benefits in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this approach, WorldGBC encourages the building and construction sector to explore short-term opportunities to support the overall decarbonisation agenda via investment in efforts that enable others to advance their journey to net zero, such as through energy efficiency improvements or establishing access to renewable energy sources. Whilst these sector-based offset projects and non credit based actions are currently under developed, WorldGBC calls on the sector to recognise how this approach is critical to achieving sector decarbonisation goals.

 Why the built environment must tackle embodied carbon now

Globally, 10% of carbon emissions comes from the materials and construction processes required to build and renovate buildings, also known as embodied carbon. However, it is estimated that between 2020 and 2050, more than half of total carbon emissions from all new global construction will be due to embodied carbon.

As carbon emissions from the energy used to heat, cool, light and power buildings are reduced through improved energy efficiency and renewable energy, the impact of embodied carbon becomes more significant than ever. This bold approach to accelerate total sector decarbonisation, introduced by the update to the Commitment, is required from the sector to account for these impacts.

Halving emissions by 2030 to achieve a 1.5oC Paris Agreement aligned future

With COP26 and the #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition spotlighting the built environment as a critical solution through the UN’s Race to Zero campaign and the Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day, this sector initiative is crucial in the wider advocacy efforts, calling on bolder and more ambitious building regulation to bring these solutions to scale.

The UN backed Race to Zero campaign is mobilising the shift towards a net zero carbon economy to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. Recognising the crucial role of the built environment in achieving this goal, our industry must ensure that by 2030 all new buildings, infrastructure and renovations will have at least 40% less embodied carbon with significant upfront carbon reduction, and all new buildings must be net zero operational carbon. The 2030 goal is an important milestone leading to 2050, where all new and existing buildings must be totally decarbonised. This requires an unprecedented shift in the way buildings are designed, built, renovated and re-used, in order to stay within remaining carbon budgets for a below 1.5oC Paris Agreement aligned future.

Aligned with the Race to Zero emissions breakthroughs, the Commitment enables signatories to take action further faster, towards their 2030 decarbonisation goals, whilst also stimulating the mainstreaming of critical and innovative approaches, solutions and business models necessary for the sector to reach climate goals by 2050.

Find out more at https://buildingtocop.org/

 Cristina Gamboa, CEO of the World Green Building Council:

“The update to the WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment elevates the ambition for the building and construction sector to go further and faster to decarbonise. It sets a target for compensating for emissions associated with buildings and construction, and the tangible social and environmental co-benefits of this approach creates a powerful catalyst towards achieving the Paris Agreement goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving our vision of sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere means acting now to tackle upfront carbon, whilst planning with whole life carbon in mind.”

 Nigel Topping, COP26 High Level Climate Action Champion:

“With the buildings sector accounting for 40% of global emissions and 50% of resource consumption, the need for urgent action is critical. WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment provides a bold approach for businesses looking to be a front runner in decarbonising emissions from buildings by 2030.”

 Ed Mazria, Founder & CEO, Architecture2030:

“The science and global carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5°C are clear. The time to act is now. With the WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment including both embodied and operational carbon, the organisations, firms and subnational governments responsible for planning, designing, constructing and developing the global built environment can demonstrate their specific actions that meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5ºC budget. By showing what is possible, our community will embolden others to do the same.”

 Alberto Carrillo Pineda, Managing Director and Co-Founder of the Science Based Targets initiative:

“Bold action is vital to limit the worst effects of climate breakdown – and that’s why the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment from the WorldGBC is so important. This leadership sets the direction for the building and construction industry. Considering the state of the climate emergency, we are calling on all world leaders, businesses and individuals to take urgent action to decarbonise the built environment at the pace and scale required by science.”


The Commitment in numbers

The Commitment now has a total of 143 signatories, with 109 businesses and organisations; 28 cities; and 6 states and regions. The businesses and organisations signed up to the Commitment account for over 5.3 million (tCO2e) of portfolio emissions, and are already taking significant steps to decarbonise their portfolio operations. Find out more about our Commitment signatories here.


British Entrepreneurs CTO Matt Denton and CEO Antony Quinn of Maverick Aviation

(Photo credit: University of Southampton Science Park)




These are the first images ever released of Maverick Aviation’s prototype, which promises to transform the way challenging maintenance, inspections and rescues are carried out worldwide.

The jetpack is the brainchild of Hollywood animatronics expert Matt Denton and Royal Navy Commander Antony Quinn.

It uses a unique Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) system and is designed to be operated hands-free, allowing people to make safer flights, and precision landings on structures that are difficult to access — from wind turbines to military hardware, buildings and construction projects.

The Maverick Jetpack can be reconfigured as a heavy-lift drone capable of being operated remotely and carrying ten times the payload of current similarly sized systems on the market — easily enough to lift a casualty like a stricken climber to safety.

Other use cases include search & rescue, leisure, disaster relief, security and policing. The company, based at the Fareham Innovation Centre at Solent Airport, near Southampton, estimates the potential market for security, defence and rescue uses alone is worth in excess of £700m.

Helicopters are currently used to carry out much of this work, but Maverick’s Jetpack is far smaller, uses sustainable fuel, and can slash costs. It threatens to take market share in the global lift market, which Maverick says is worth approximately £52bn a year.

The jetpack is unusually light because Maverick exploited advanced manufacturing techniques like 3D printing and materials including aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre. It will travel at between 10mph and 30mph depending on the task.

The control system is extremely intuitive and the operator can switch on an in-built autopilot so they can multi-task while in flight if necessary. Early work on the control system software was funded by a £97,000 grant from Innovate UK, secured by Maverick’s grant partner Catax. This money also helped pay for patent applications and the creation of a concept demonstrator. The team has since received much more funding, including grants and business mentorship from the University of Southampton Science Park.

The first manned test flight is scheduled for next summer and the company is about to start seeking further investment to take the jetpack to market.

Co-founder Matt Denton is also Maverick’s CTO. He’s well regarded for his work on animatronics and control systems, having worked on numerous Star Wars movies that saw him develop the BB-8 droid from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also worked on Jurassic World and Harry Potter movies, The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire.

Antony Quinn, CEO and co-founder of Maverick Aviation, commented: 

“The jetpack uses the same sort of jet engines that you see on a passenger plane, only ours are the size of a rugby ball.

“What is unique about what we’re doing is the computer-controlled autopilot system that makes flying effortless and easy to control with precision. That’s how we have changed jetpacks from exciting to useful.

“It’s so intuitive to fly that the cost of training is going to be low, so you’re going to have all sorts of professionals suddenly able to work in the most inaccessible environments safely and quickly.

“I realised that the growing onshore and offshore wind industry really needed a solution like this. Their engineers climb up ladders inside these structures for hours each day and, in an emergency situation, it’s almost impossible to get down quickly. Drones can be useful for inspections, but in many circumstances you need to get an engineer up there.

“During tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, the number of possible use cases just kept on mounting and I realised how big the opportunity was. The potential is almost endless.

“Before, people would have used a £30m helicopter to perform some simple tasks, we can offer a more tailored solution at a fraction of the cost.”


Karen Taylor, Group Head of Grants at Catax, said: 

“What Antony and Matt are doing is the stuff of dreams. When we think of jetpacks, plenty of Hollywood scripts come to mind but this is the first time such a versatile piece of equipment is being created with business use cases at the forefront.

“They’ve achieved an incredible amount so far, and it’s fantastic that a British company is leading the way on such an important, game-changing piece of technology.”

Maverick Jet Pack



CarbonStore will address environmental and sustainability specialists and analysts on ‘Why Woodland Creation Should Be Part of a Carbon Reduction Strategy and the race for net-zero’ at a dedicated webinar on 21 September at 10.00 am.


CarbonStore provides an open and transparent platform for companies and landowners to buy and sell woodland Carbon Units while helping companies maximise the benefits associated with UK woodlands and restoring peatlands.

The webinar will address the following topics:

Is there a market for quality carbon credits?

What are the pitfalls of carbon offset programs and how to avoid them?

What are the wider benefits of buying Woodland Carbon Units?

How can CarbonStore help analysts and sustainability managers achieve net zero while maximising the many virtues of planting trees?

During the webinar Dr Michael Fagbohungbe, CarbonStore’s Carbon Manager will answer these questions and many more. Michael, holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and has worked in the fields of renewable energy and resource management. Michael has a combined 7 years of experience in low-carbon technology development, ESG framework implementation, and carbon management in agriculture, processing, and distribution. He will be discussing the pitfalls of some types of carbon offset programs. He will also dig deeper into the authenticity and traceability of carbon offsets and the importance of using the UK Woodland Carbon Code.

David McCulloch, Head of CarbonStore, who has a BSc (Hons) in Accounting, Finance and Economics and 18 years’ experience in the financial sector based in London and Tokyo, initially as an equity salesman and latterly as a corporate analyst will explain the practicalities of purchasing woodland carbon units authorised and issued by the Woodland Carbon Code through CarbonStore.

He will present the unique advantages of working with CarbonStore to realise an organisation’s net zero ambitions before concluding with a case study to illustrate how CarbonStore can deliver woodland creation projects which protect our environment, enhance our ecology and enrich our society.

The webinar will include a Q&A session featuring two further panelists including Stuart Pearson, Tilhill’s Business Development Manager and chartered forester and CarbonStore’s Carbon Project Manager Alex MacKinnon, BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science and former Forest Manager with a broad understanding of the Woodland Carbon Code and its fundamental principles.

Alex works on the technical side of CarbonStore working directly with managers and clients to efficiently register, validate and verify projects. He also works with incoming purchasers to identify and assess potential project carbon units that suit their preferences.

David McCulloch, gave his thoughts on the forthcoming webinar: “Within a net-zero strategy, there will be some Carbon reduction challenges that are simply too difficult to achieve quickly. In many cases, the technology has not developed sufficiently to enable those changes to be made today, so offsetting should relate to the portion of a reduction strategy that cannot be changed quickly or is outside of your control.

“This webinar will focus on why woodland creation should be a fundamental part of residual carbon offset plans because trees are the ONLY option that actually removes carbon from the environment.”

The free webinar will take place September 21st at 10am-11:am on Zoom.

Flagship AirMaster Smart Mechanical Ventilation Awarded Passivhaus Component Certification


SAV Systems is proud to announce that the AirMaster AM 1000 has been awarded Passivhaus Component certification in conjunction with their Danish partner, Airmaster A/S. The flagship AM 1000 is the first decentralised, duct free, mechanical ventilation unit with heat recovery (MVHR) on the market to be awarded the certification. This enables the AirMaster AM 1000 to be used in Passivhaus school buildings.

Our time working with the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) inspired SAV Systems to undertake Passivhaus certification. CEC has set ambitious targets to achieve Net Zero by 2035, leading the council to apply passive house design principles to all their new schools. The core philosophy of passive house design is to create a comfortable and energy efficient building with minimal energy wastage. Alongside the need for improved energy efficiency, Passivhaus also offers the opportunity to create more comfortable learning environments for students, combatting the Scottish climate.

Ventilation plays a crucial part in two requirements of passive house standards: air tightness and space heating demand. Openings in buildings, such as windows and porous building materials can allow heat to escape, wasting the energy generated by the building. Consequently, Passivhaus buildings have high airtightness and low heat loss. However, in increasing the airtightness of a building to conserve energy, indoor air quality can suffer. Therefore, a mechanical ventilation solution is required to manage indoor air quality without wasting energy.

Adopting AirMaster as a school’s ventilation strategy is an effective choice for designing comfortable classrooms. Due to the decentralised design of AirMasters, the units can be installed easily in a range of different classrooms, making use of duct free air distribution. A typical classroom installation requires one AirMaster AM 1000 per room with intake and exhaust connection to outside. The AM 1000 can recover up to 90% of the room’s heat using an aluminium heat exchanger, reducing the building’s heat load and heat loss.

The certification of the AM 1000 makes available an innovative ventilation strategy that can improve indoor air quality without sacrificing thermal comfort. Not only is this certification exciting for SAV Systems, but it is also exciting for decentralised mechanical MVHR as a ventilation strategy. With growing pressure on buildings to become energy efficient and comfortable, decentralised MVHR like AirMaster should play a vital role in the solution.


Public sector housing teams will be able to hear about and discuss the challenges of and opportunities available in MMC, retrofit and the net zero agenda, as experts from procurement specialist LHC appear at Housing 2021.

Two of LHC’s regional directors will be tackling the hot topics at the first major housing event to take place in-person following the pandemic.

Mary Bennell, director of LHC’s South West Procurement Alliance (SWPA), will be joining a panel to discuss the role of MMC and digital in UK housing delivery on the Future of Living stage at 2pm on Tuesday, September 7.

Gary Cawley, director of Consortium Procurement Construction (CPC) – LHC’s regional division for the North and Midlands – will be chairing a session at the Unlock Net Zero stage on the same day at 11.50am. The panel will be assessing whether the sector can agree a single, credible approach to the data and standards needed to inform the retrofit agenda. He’ll also sit on a panel the following day at 2.55pm, on the same stage, discussing the net zero procurement and skills challenge.

On Thursday 9 September at 8am, LHC will be hosting a breakfast briefing in conjunction with Engie and Ground Control.


John Skivington, director of LHC, said:

“Through our procurement expertise honed over the past 50 years, we’re committed to helping the public sector get to grips with, tackle and reap the benefits of the net zero agenda and the emergence of MMC, for them and their residents.

“It’s vital to us that we can help our clients and suppliers realise the social value inherent in both issues, and we recognise that this is the very beginning of the journey for many. So we’re really looking forward to taking part in Housing 2021, and meeting and speaking with our peers from across the sector.”


Housing 2021 will feature more than 500 speakers across three days from 7-9 September in Manchester.

The LHC team will also be on hand throughout the event to answer any questions about procurement options and the process, located at stand D46.

To find out more about LHC see www.lhc.gov.uk, and for more details on Housing 2021 see cihhousing.com/




Premier Modular, one of the UK’s leading modular building specialists, has appointed Mark Rooney as Divisional Director for its Hire operations.


Mark joins the business with 15 years’ experience in leadership roles, 10 years of which have been spent in the construction hire space.  He now takes responsibility for Premier’s highly successful Hire Division, from business development and project delivery to managing and developing the company’s expanding fleet of modular buildings for hire.


According to David Harris, Managing Director of Premier Modular, “The Covid-19 pandemic has really put the modular industry in the spotlight. It has given us the opportunity to demonstrate the responsiveness of modular construction and in particular of our hire solutions. We have worked on some really high-profile projects in the past year, to incredibly challenging programmes to help the Government in its response to the pandemic.”

“To help meet the increasing demand for our temporary building solutions in every sector, we invested £12m in our hire fleet in just 12 months and have an extremely high degree of fleet utilisation. As the economy is starting to return to normal levels, we are pleased to report a very strong order pipeline.”


Mark Rooney, Divisional Director – Hire, added, “This is a really exciting time to join the business, which has made tremendous progress in the past year. There is enormous growth potential for Premier’s hire solutions, particularly in healthcare and education, where we are well placed to provide larger, more complex temporary buildings which may be on hire for a number of years. These projects range from decant education facilities for use during school redevelopment works to acute healthcare buildings to help NHS trusts rapidly increase capacity – from specialist ward buildings to theatre blocks.”


“We also have ambitious plans to increase our market share in the provision of high quality project offices for major construction and infrastructure projects, not just in the South East but across the UK.”


“Our aim is to provide additional space very quickly and with levels of quality, fitout, and comfort that make every building feel bespoke.”


Premier is currently working on a number of multi-million pound contracts to provide project offices for HS2 in the South East and a £3m hire project for Kier is nearing completion at Royal Cornwall Hospital to rapidly increase ward capacity.


The hiring of modular accommodation is a fast, flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective way for organisations to expand capacity or relocate services, particularly on constrained sites. The approach also gives customers greater flexibility as the facilities can be dismantled and removed for use on other sites if local needs or business requirements change.


Premier specialises in more complex hire building solutions which can include facilities spanning six storeys and built on gantries on constrained city centre sites.


David Harris previously held the position of Divisional Director for Hire until he was appointed Managing Director of Premier Modular in 2020, following the retirement of Eugenio de Sa.


For further information, visit www.premiermodular.co.uk, call 0800 316 0888 or email info@premiermodular.co.uk.



A Gwynedd town will see the site of its former railway station transformed into affordable homes as work begins on a new housing development.

Housing association Grŵp Cynefin, which owns and manages 4,800 properties across all six north Wales counties as well as northern Powys, has commenced construction on a £2.5 million project to build 17 new homes in Bethesda.

The development, which will be built by Gareth Morris Construction of Llangollen, will contain eight two-bedroom properties, five two-bedroom bungalows, three three-bedroom houses and a single four-bedroom home.

The properties will take over the site of Bethesda’s former railway station, which shut in 1963, as well as the old clubhouses of Bethesda Athletic FC and Bethesda RFC, which are now at new locations.

The homes will be let on a social housing basis, with the development a partnership between Grŵp Cynefin and Gwynedd Council. The project is partially funded through a social housing grant from the Welsh Government.

Development manager at Grŵp Cynefin, Gwyndaf Williams, said: “Providing affordable and accessible homes, particularly in rural communities, is at the core of our work and we are incredibly excited to have finally commenced construction on this project.

“There is a real need for housing families and couples around Bethesda, so this development will support those looking to remain living in the area who may have struggled to find affordable housing in the past.”



Construction on the site is expected to finish by March 2022, with the homes built to meet the Welsh Government housing technical standards, which ensures all properties built under the scheme meet modern methods of construction and sustainability.

Gwyndaf added: “It is invigorating to develop these new properties on what was once one of the major meeting points in the town and we aim to honour as much of the site’s heritage as we can.

“We hope the residents of the new homes on this site will be able to put down roots as part of their local community thanks to the proximity of the site to regular public transport, recreational fields and the Lon Las Ogwen cycle route, a pivotal spot in the town.”

Chief executive of Grŵp Cynefin, Shân Lloyd Williams, said: “The development in Bethesda is a great way to showcase how we are working alongside the local community and local authorities to reduce the pressure on the affordable housing market in Gwynedd.

“Grŵp Cynefin is committed to providing high-quality affordable housing and this project is a step in that direction within the community of Bethesda.

“Schemes such as this one are essential to ensuring these communities remain intact and younger couples, families, and older individuals can still find a place in the areas they are comfortable and familiar with, while avoiding being priced out of the area entirely.

“We are thrilled to finally begin work on this development as it marks a major milestone in the life of this project, and we look forward to finally allowing tenants to move into their new homes as soon as we can.”



The environmental benefits that can be delivered by adopting modern methods of construction (MMC) in the delivery of building projects are not always properly understood by businesses, according to industry experts.

The gap in understanding exists across other non-costed benefits of MMC too, such as the social value of projects, the experts agreed at a recent series of roundtable discussions hosted by Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.Modern methods of construction (MMC) are widely seen as having the potential to transform the delivery of modern, affordable, high quality UK housing, but there remain some barriers to its widespread adoption.MMC is a general term used to describe a range of alternative off-site and on-site manufacturing techniques. There is a significant emerging market in MMC globally. As the housing and infrastructure construction sectors look to improve productivity and deliver on government infrastructure pledges while dealing with a lack of new entrants and an aging workforce, MMC is expected to become an increasingly important means of delivery.Iain Gilbey of Pinsent Masons said: “There was concern among participants that the benefits of using MMC as a safer, faster and more sustainable alternative to traditional build are generally not costed holistically. Social value and other elements such as net zero are also not included. For example, how appropriately sited manufacturing facilities can provide employment opportunities in areas located away from development sites and contribute to communities and the UK government’s levelling up agenda.”

“MMC projects often appear to be expensive by comparison to traditional build, as the design and engineering costs are not properly apportioned. There is often a duplication of costs and misaligned risk contingencies due to a lack of understanding about the process and this makes MMC appear to be more expensive,” he said.

Tom Johnson, also of Pinsent Masons, said the public sector is keen to be seen to be leading the way in using MMC in delivering housing and that there are examples of this work that the private sector could learn from to improve not only its understanding of the way in which MMC can deliver environmental benefits and other social value to their projects, but also opportunities for the private sector to work more collaboratively with the public sector to achieve this.

Showcasing the benefits of using MMC, such as social value and lower embedded carbon in products and processes could help to encourage further innovation within and investment from the private sector,” Johnson said.

Source: Pinsent Masons


Britain Rethinks Letting China Enter Its Nuclear Power Industry

By Stanley Reed

Financing and security issues are clouding new power station projects.

A few years ago, Britain agreed to let China take an ownership stake in its newest nuclear power plants, figuring Beijing had the nuclear know-how and the construction smarts to help replace the country’s aging power stations.

It was a warm moment in British-Chinese relations, a deal signed in 2015 during a carefully choreographed visit to London by President Xi Jinping of China with the British prime minister at the time, David Cameron.

Six years later, Britain is having second thoughts. Financing for a planned power station facing the North Sea, estimated at 20 billion pounds ($28 billion) and necessary to ensure a steady stream of electricity for decades, is unexpectedly in doubt. Part of the problem: attracting investors to a project one-fifth owned by China.

Mr. Xi’s authoritarian ambitions and human rights record have chilled relations with Western nations, forcing a broad reconsideration of a range of economic dealings with the world’s second-largest economy.

In Britain, the pushback over nuclear power echoes the concerns raised last year when Britain joined the United States in banning the Chinese telecom supplier Huawei from high-speed wireless networks on security grounds.

The 2015 nuclear agreement even calls for letting China be majority owner of a proposed plant of its own design, at a site about 50 miles from London. Although that project is going through regulatory channels, it is expected to face strong opposition from lawmakers.

“We cannot allow the technological heart of our power system to be exposed to the risk of disruption by states that do not share our values,” said Tom Tugendhat, a member of the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Parliament.

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China has ambitions to be a global supplier of nuclear power plants, but Britain is not the only country reconsidering an agreement.

“Within Europe, there is an emerging pattern of nations rethinking nuclear collaboration with China,” said Ted Jones, senior director at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group in Washington. He pointed to recent setbacks that China’s nuclear plant business has suffered in Romania, the Czech Republic and elsewhere.

Evidence of the risks involved was buried in financial results published on Thursday by Électricité de France, a French utility company that owns and operates Britain’s eight operating nuclear power stations. The company is halfway through building Britain’s first new station since the 1990s, at Hinkley Point in southwest England, a project one-third owned by China General Nuclear, China’s state-owned nuclear company.

EDF, in its quarterly results, urged the British government to pass legislation soon enabling a new, less risky financial and regulatory arrangement before the company embarks on the North Sea project, near a fishing village called Sizewell.

British officials and EDF executives have been negotiating financing terms for the Sizewell project.Credit…Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Failure to obtain these changes, the company said, could lead it to “not to make an investment decision” — in other words, walk away from the project.

“This legislation is now really, really essential,” said Simone Rossi, chief executive of EDF’s British arm, in June, according to Reuters. British officials and EDF executives have been negotiating terms for financing for the Sizewell project.

EDF, which is majority owned by the French government, says it can’t afford to pay the project’s costs upfront and wants to reduce its 80 percent stake to a minority holding to make room for other investors.

The arrangement being considered would allow investors to obtain an immediate return on the capital they spent on the plant through surcharges on energy bills. Pension funds, university endowments and similar investors would most likely be attracted by predictable, long-term revenue streams, analysts said.

“You will find investors who are interested,” said Meike Becker, a utility analyst at Bernstein, a research company.

The critical question, though, is whether the presence of China General Nuclear might give financial institutions pause, especially those from the United States.

In 2019, the company was placed on a U.S. government blacklist — which restricts American companies from doing business with it — for engaging in efforts to acquire advanced American nuclear technology for military purposes. In 2016, an American nuclear engineer was sentenced to two years in prison for helping the company develop nuclear materials.

“CGN has a particularly bad reputation in the United States,” said Vincent C. Zabielski, a London-based special counsel who specializes in nuclear issues at Pillsbury, a law firm. Mr. Zabielski said that while investors might judge that CGN would bring valuable engineering skills to building the plant, the company’s presence could be a turnoff for American investors “in some cases.”

Much has changed since 2015, when China General Nuclear entered Britain during an elaborately choreographed visit by President Xi Jinping, a high point in Chinese-British relations.Credit…Leon Neal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China General Nuclear declined to comment.

Ultimately, the government will decide the fate of Britain’s nuclear program; one option said to be on the table is the British government’s buying China’s stake in the Sizewell project. In principle, the government wants at least one more power station after Hinkley Point to help meet its ambitious low-carbon targets. The Sizewell plant would pump out enough power for millions of homes for decades. Building a plant would also create thousands of jobs and provide billions of pounds worth of work for British suppliers.

China’s global nuclear ambitions are on the line in Britain. Its plans for a nuclear plant outside London, at Bradwell-on-Sea, are going through Britain’s approval process, a critical step that Beijing hoped would be a springboard to its acceptance in other international markets.

China is “making every effort it can to establish Chinese standards” in the global nuclear industry, said Mark Hibbs, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. If China is successful in Britain, he said, it will give the country a competitive advantage in global nuclear sales for decades.

But the British government has soured on Beijing because of a host of concerns, including the crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong, a former British colony, and the harsh treatment of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region. Influenced by Washington, worries have also increased in London about the security risks of using Chinese technology.

Industry sources say it is now difficult to conceive of the government’s approving a Chinese-designed and majority-owned plant not far from London, as envisioned for the project in Bradwell.

The situation may be different at Hinkley Point, where the Chinese company’s stake is 33 percent, and at the proposed Sizewell project, where its stake is 20 percent. Overall, China General Nuclear has spent about £4 billion on the British projects. Mr. Tugendhat said he had no objection to Chinese money in these cases because it could be easily replaced.


Source: The New York Times


Box Architects and the Olympian-led ReCreation Group are using modern methods of construction (MMC) to deliver affordable and sustainable pools to get more people swimming.

Box and ReCreation pledged to build on the legacy of Team GB’s gold rush in the pool in Tokyo. Britain’s swimmers won eight medals last week, including double golds for Adam Peaty, Tom Dean and James Guy and a record four medals in a single games for Duncan Scott. However, the success came as the UK experienced its worst ever month for lake and river drownings.

Meanwhile, new research from Sport England revealed that one in three children in England still can’t swim, a figure which rises to 59% among least affluent families, compared to 16% among the most affluent. This fact is exacerbated by the problem that post-lockdown it is expected that many existing pools will not reopen, being outdated and too expensive to maintain.

Tackling this challenge, Box Architects has been embracing the efficiencies of MMC to work in partnership with the ReCreation Group to deliver a concept that creates much-needed swimming pools. Its legacy was born out of London 2012, when ReCreation founders and Olympic swimmers Steve Parry and Adrian Turner toured the UK with temporary pools from the athletes’ village to teach children to swim. Since then, they’ve been creating their own swimming facilities as well as affordable pools for local authorities.

Graham Place, CEO of Box Architects, said: “It’s an exciting journey. We’ve used our specialist MMC design skills to create a modular approach that can be adapted and repeated. As a practice, we’re committed to developing MMC thinking and promoting our healthy practice approach, so our collaboration with ReCreation couldn’t be better.”

The MMC approach means a much quicker design, development and construction process with projects manufactured off-site. Building above ground also means that maintenance is much easier with no underground pipework, while environmental sustainability benefits come from input to community district heating systems. Projects now extend to community pools, a gymnastics project with fellow Olympian Beth Tweddle and also leisure centre projects for local authorities, all using modern methods of design and construction.

“We wanted to develop an entire pool facility above-ground, which would be faster and more affordable to build,” said Adrian Turner, Olympian and co-founder at ReCreation. “We knew that making such a pool a reality would unlock our mission of breaking down the barriers for kids to reach their true potential. Working together with Box Architects we’ve designed a solution that hits the speed and affordability goals, realises social and economic benefits and creates a destination that the community are proud of,” Turner said.

Box and ReCreation’s work couldn’t have come at a better time, with Swim England’s recent Value of Swimming report highlighting that 1.4 million swimmers show reduced anxiety, and two million young swimmers ‘feel happier’.

“We’re proud to be working with ReCreation to deliver affordable and sustainable pools to get more people swimming,” said Graham Place. “By doing so, we’re helping to save lives, increase wellbeing and produce Olympic champions of the future.”

Source: Infrastructure Intelligence