Post-industrial revolution human activity is now well established as a key cause of climate change. Furthermore, the built environment accounts for 38% of carbon emissions in the world. What then, can be done to tackle the industry’s contribution to climate change? And what is our role at Burke Hunter Adams?

The ambition of the UK Government remains that of bringing the UK to achieve Net Zero by 2050. But what does this mean exactly and how can the construction and real estate sector help achieve it?

What is Net Zero in the UK?

The goal of net zero, as defined by the Government, is to achieve a situation where the country emits no more greenhouse gas than it removes from the atmosphere. The government both at national and local level has implemented numerous measures to help the country achieve this. Measures range from prohibiting new gas heating systems, to reducing or removing car parking in new developments.

The aim is to ensure the reduction of carbon through a combination of encouragement to innovate and enforcement to reduce emissions and use new technologies. Anyone who has seen a new residential or commercial development in recent years cannot have missed some of the obvious changes. These include car charging points, sustainable heating systems and low energy lighting.

How Do We Get There in Construction?

At Burke Hunter Adams, we recognize the importance of our role in cutting carbon emissions. We also see the benefits of leading in that process. At a strategic level, we work with our partners on projects to ensure each project is both cost-effective and meets the highest of carbon and environmental standards.

Some examples include:

PV / Solar Energy

Estimates vary, but overall, around 15% can be saved in the embodied carbon of a building (carbon emitted during the full lifetime of a project) through the use of Photo Voltaic panels.

The technology on these is evolving all the time, including such innovations as curtain walling being constructed entirely of PV panels. These also come with the advantage of reducing energy bills and long-term costs of buildings. Several of our projects have featured PV energy systems.

Circular Economy

Another key consideration is the examination of how materials can be reused, rather than sent to landfill. An example of this lies in raised flooring panels. Often these are scrapped when a building is refurbished. Instead, they can be reused – there is usually nothing wrong with them structurally, and carpet is laid on top. This provides an ideal way to reduce the carbon – a saving of up to 70% over new panels.

Another innovation seen in London is the re-use of steelwork from old buildings. Engineers, Civic Engineers have stated that by reusing steel from the House of Fraser demolition in Oxford St, around 48 tonnes of CO2 can be saved in a new project near Tower Bridge. With this carbon saving comes a commensurate financial saving, as new materials are not needed.

Material Selection

In our project at Parson’s Green Preparatory School, we were asked to help source materials created using low-carbon energy, and those that were free from Volatile Organic Compounds. Drawing on our extensive supply-chain network we were able to achieve this, whilst keeping an eye on delivering a project that represented value for money to the client.


We are often asked to work to BREEAM, LEED, WELL and other standards such as NABERS. These standards provide benefits to building owners and operators. They ensure energy use in the buildings and the environment / purpose for which they are built is as sustainable as possible. Examples of these include the Leominster Health Hub, Bodmin Health Centre, Hope House Health Centre, Tadpole Health Centre, Castle School (Newbury) SEN school and others. Meeting the standards ensures that buildings are objectively assessed to an equal standard of environmental compliance.

The Future is Bright

Burke Hunter Adams have been involved with a range of low carbon projects. These saw innovations such as rainwater harvesting, sustainable material use, and reuse, biomass energy, and carbon neutral material sourcing. We use our extensive supply chain knowledge to ensure value for money. We also ensure the best-in-class sustainable projects are delivered. Ensuring, measuring and certifying sustainability on a project can add 2% to 7% to the capital cost of a project. However, when optimised, operational costs have been measured around 14% to 19% less than a traditional project.

Should you need more information on how Burke Hunter Adams can help with delivery of a low carbon project, get in touch today.