The future of construction

How are modern methods of construction supporting ESG objectives? What are the barriers and limitations?

The vast majority of publicly listed companies now report their performance against ESG standards. As a result, these companies increasingly want to able to invest in opportunities that promote their ESG credentials.

Property funds are keen to improve their ESG credentials by investing in modern, environmentally friendly buildings, which, in turn, attract better quality tenants who themselves want to demonstrate their ESG credentials, driving increased property values and an improved return on investment – a ‘win-win’.

The UK construction industry therefore needs to do its bit to embrace change and move with the ESG agenda. The UK Green Building Council says that around 10% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions are directly associated with construction. Other bodies put this figure even higher. Whatever the true figure, the UK’s construction industry has an important role to play in the government’s net zero ambitions.

Modern methods of construction

Modern methods of construction (MMC) are an essential ingredient in reducing our built environment’s impact on climate change as it has a number of advantages over traditional construction methods:

  • Waste is a huge issue for the construction industry, however MMC factories are much more efficient in eliminating w aste. It has been estimated that MMC construction reduces material waste by 45% compared to traditional construction.
  • Some commentators have estimated that MMC construction sites have 40% less HGV movements compared to traditional construction sites – this is through a significant reduction in the amount of materials that need to be delivered to site.
  • MMC factories can store large amounts of materials, thus reducing the number of deliveries compared to a construction site where space for storage may be limited.
  • Workers at MMC factories will generally work locally with relatively short commute times. As those workers are travelling to the same place every day, they are able to car share, use public transport or even cycle or walk to work. Traditional construction workers in contrast will often travel large distances to work on different construction sites.
  • The quality control associated with a factory process naturally produces greater levels of airtightness and improved building performance. Faithful + Gould estimates that volumetric buildings achieve airtightness levels that are at least t hreefold better than those built using traditional construction methods.
  • MMC construction also contributes to better social conditions. Clean modern factories generally offer a safer and better environment in which to work. They are also likely to have a much more diverse workforce.

The UK construction industry is facing a skills and productivity crisis, but upscaling t he use of MMC offers an opportunity to deliver the thousands of additional new homes needed than just relying solely on traditional construction.

Paul Brocklehurst, chairman of the Land Promoters and Developers Foundation, agrees. He said: “MMC can play a big part in driving ESG. In five to 10 years, we can expect to have a reasonably high percentage of new homes being built w ith MMC, but we need more factories and education streams to increase the skilled workforce in this area.”

Around 10% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions are directly associated with construction.

MMC construction reduces material waste by 45% compared to traditional construction.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



Read other articles from issue three or you can explore the full report here.