Overbury's parent company Morgan Sindall Group plc has today announced plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions in under a decade.

The Group, one of the largest UK contractors, said it would reduce Scope 1, 2 and operational Scope 3 emissions – those directly and indirectly related to its operations – by 30% by 2025 and by 60% by 2030, based on a 2019 baseline, with any remaining emissions being offset in the UK.

“We believe that this target is ambitious yet achievable,” said Chief Executive John Morgan, as the Group presented its Full Year Results.

“It builds upon years of efforts as a responsible business to lessen our carbon footprint - to design differently, to use less energy in our projects, to help create the built that environment society needs, without undue damage.”

Already the Group has achieved a 64% reduction in emissions (Scope 1, 2 and operational Scope 3) since 2010, and its carbon intensity – the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy consumed – has been cut by 75% over the same period.

The Group’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions are mainly made up of bulk fuel, vehicle fleet emissions and electricity use, while operational Scope 3 emissions are those which occur in the value chain, such as materials purchased – like bricks and glass.

Calculating carbon

The net zero carbon goal will be reached by implementing a series of initiatives across the Group’s companies which span commercial fit out, construction, infrastructure, property services, design and engineering, homebuilding, urban regeneration and partnership housing.

An internal carbon charge has been introduced to encourage each company to think innovatively about how to minimise carbon and Morgan Sindall has developed its own in-house carbon calculator. The CarboniCa tool will enable project and site managers, as well as planners, clients and partners, to visualise, track and measure the whole-life emissions of a project. An intelligent tool, it can also suggest where alternative, lower-carbon construction methods or materials could be used.

A pathway to net zero by 2030

Morgan Lovell's Net Zero Graph

Biodiversity net gain

Already, the companies that make up the Morgan Sindall Group are adopting innovative measures to reduce carbon. Using offsite construction methods – where buildings are made to measure offsite and can be assembled in a far shorter time-frame - is one example.

Morgan Sindall Construction delivered eight offsite project in 2020, including 6 schools, using both modular systems – where different sections of the building are delivered ready to be pieced together – and timber panellised systems - where sections of the building are made off-site and assembled on site.

These techniques reduce both the amount of carbon generated by transporting materials to site and air pollution for the local community.

Urban regeneration company Muse is building an 11-storey fossil-fuel free office development in Salford. The building will run solely on 100% good-quality renewable electricity and will be net zero in operation, meeting the UK Green Building Council’s 2035 – 2050 office energy performance targets. The structure will also be encased in a living façade, designed to remove air pollutants and deliver a net gain in biodiversity.

Housing company Lovell is rolling out the use of HVO fuel to power generators on building sites. Compared to traditional diesel, HVO fuel – made largely of vegetable oil and waste animal fat - offers significant environmental advantages and achieves a CO₂ reduction of up to 90%.

Transparent targets

The Group has a history of leadership, transparency and openness around its sustainability goals. It was one of the first construction companies in the world to gain accreditation by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, using targets which represent sector-specific actual reductions in overall emissions.

Its emission figures have been independently audited by Achilles, under the Carbon Reduce Scheme (formerly CEMARS), for over a decade.

In 2020, its actions to tackle climate change were independently recognised with an A score for leadership on climate change from the CDP, a voluntary climate impact reporting scheme. In 2021, CDP also named the Group a Supplier Engagement Leader, for its work to drive action on climate change along its supply chain.

Supply chain community

With long-term relationships with supply chain partners that go back decades and the know-how, Morgan Sindall recognises that it can help tackle emissions in this community, which remain a challenge for the construction sector. Its goal within the supply chain is to focus on helping its partners reduce emissions from plant equipment and waste generated in the delivery of materials.

“We aspire to support all of our stakeholders in delivering a sustainable future, and to pursue activities that contribute to a more resilient society,” John Morgan said.

“We want our legacy to be the positive benefits we bring to society and the environment in the communities where we operate.”