News & Media
January 05, 2022

New NEC secondary option will incentivise net zero emissions

New NEC secondary option will incentivise net zero emissions     

By Ian Heaphy, NEC4 Contract Board
NEC is about to publish a consultative version of a new secondary option that will enable construction clients to engage their suppliers in the global drive towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability.
Achieving net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate-warming gases will dramatically increase the sustainability of creating and operating built assets. This is a key part of the UK government’s strategy for construction (HM Government, 2020) and, as highlighted by the recent Cop26 climate change conference, is of increasing importance for public and private-sector organisations worldwide.

Achieving net-zero emissions and sustainable outcomes is principally a technical issue that can be addressed in the scope. However, there is now a growing view that standard contract conditions can be used further to support a reduction in the climate change impact of built assets.

NEC has therefore developed a new secondary option specifically to address the issue. It is due to be published in early 2022 and will initially be in a consultative form, enabling users to comment on it and more advanced users to try it.

Incentivising the supply chain

The secondary option has been developed with support from industry and the Institution of Civil Engineers. It aims to incentivise the NEC supply chain to meet the client’s emissions and sustainability targets, and to link these into core processes of the contracts, such as early warnings, the programme and compensation events. In addition, contractors will be encouraged to propose changes to the scope that will reduce the climate-change impact of both the construction and operation of the client’s asset.

The secondary option is intended to be flexible in its application, allowing for adoption by clients and suppliers with differing approaches to reaching net-zero emissions and sustainability, but encouraging them all to make their achievement a key part of their contracts. As with all NEC clauses, the new secondary option will be supported by detailed guidance notes, training and webinars. Please keep an eye on the NEC website for further details.


HM Government (2020) The Construction Playbook, Government Guidance on sourcing and contracting public works, Cabinet Office,

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