Some of the most pertinent environmental issues in the construction industry come from the unsustainable use of land and building materials. Presently, the built land around new construction projects is often left underdeveloped or hard landscaping is used, creating an unnecessarily high carbon footprint and leaving the buildings vulnerable to climate change. The cement industry alone is the cause of 5-8% of the CO2 emissions globally. Furthermore, building materials are often sourced from all over the globe, causing a high carbon footprint when transporting to project locations.

Construction projects often leave behind harmful GHG emissions long after completion. In 2014, 120Mt of waste was generated in the UK from construction, demolition and excavation - less than half of such waste was recycled, composted or used for energy regeneration.  A large portion of this waste includes problematic materials such as plastics, metal, concrete, and hazardous waste, which often ends up in landfill and which is known to generate methane, and is far more damaging for the climate than CO2 emissions.

The impact of construction materials on climate change will need to be reduced if the construction industry is to respond to the climate change challenge.

The careful planning and management of land and materials could provide a solution to these problems. The Climate Resilient landscape design contracts clause requires architects and contractors to use available land in an environmentally efficient manner (for example, by planting native flora and trees and limiting the amount of hard landscaping). The Construction Materials: Procurement clause introduces a formal “Carbon Budget” for the project forcing the developer to consider materials processes which would reduce the project’s total GHG emissions. Finally, the Climate Aligned Construction Waste Management clause introduces careful material usage and waste management objectives to the project holding contractors liable for a failure to comply.

Clyde & Co is proud to be assisting clients interested in adopting these clauses into their contracts. Please reach out to me or one of our climate change experts if these clauses are of interest.  

This post is part of a series of short updates summarising the precedent clauses drafted in the course of collaborative hackathons organised by The Chancery Lane Project.  Clyde & Co held its own hackathon in partnership with The Chancery Lane Project in July 2020, and has taken a leading role in the Big Hack, another hackathon organised centrally by The Chancery Lane Project throughout autumn 2020.