How NEC contracts can help us to achieve net zero carbon emissions

How NEC contracts can help us to achieve net zero carbon emissions

Recent record-breaking temperatures in the UK and across the world have reminded us, yet again, of the impact of climate change on our ability to function as a society and economy. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (2020), construction is now responsible for 38% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

At our NEC Users’ Group conference in June − very ably chaired by John Welch – we focused on climate resilience and achieving the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target. There is now an evolving ‘armoury’ of support in the NEC family of contracts for parties wishing to import climate resilience and carbon dioxide reduction into their procurement strategies.

At this year’s conference, NEC Contract Board member Ian Heaphy spoke about the new NEC climate change secondary option X29. It is vital that NEC contract scopes define – via the climate change requirements – clients’ expectations on reducing their projects’ adverse impact on climate change, especially over the lifetime of their buildings or structures.

Procurement stage critical

More fundamentally, issues around climate resilience and reducing emissions are most effectively addressed at procurement stage.

In March this year, King’s College London’s law school published a report, Procuring Net Zero Construction (Mosey et al, 2022). Part-funded by the Society of Construction Law, the report advised that the net zero emissions target is unlikely to be achieved unless project participants were focused on best-for-project outcomes.

It would only be achievable where there was far greater collaboration and integration of inputs between members of the delivery team, especially the supply chain inputs. This would be most effectively addressed through alliancing arrangements.

Fortunately as NEC users we have the NEC4 Alliance Contract, a multi-party agreement allowing all the key players to develop the most effective outcomes for addressing the climate emergency.

There is also the NEC secondary option X22 on early contractor involvement, which facilitates early appointment of supply chain inputs to work with consultants and others to devise design solutions to reduce a project’s carbon footprint.

References

Mosey D, Bahram D, Vornicu R, Ettore Giana P (2022) Procuring Net Zero Construction, London Centre of Construction Law & Dispute Resolution, https://www.scl.org.uk/resources/news/scl-and-procuring-net-zero-carbonconstruction
United Nations Environment Programme (2020) Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, https://globalabc.org/news/launched-2020-global-status-report-buildingsand-construction

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