Mark Robinson, group chief executive at SCAPE, explains how the procurement authority is helping the UK’s public sector to move to net zero carbon in construction and improve local communities in the process.
Our mission at SCAPE is to create a world that everyone deserves – helping to improve spaces and places, accelerate projects that build wealth and skills in communities, and ultimately enhance the lives of those who benefit from them.
Procurement that makes a difference
While procurement isn’t an obvious first port of call when thinking about the factors that enrich local communities, the importance of the built environment and the scale of public sector investment means that it can – and does – make a significant difference.
SCAPE was established in 2006 by six UK councils acting as shareholders.
Since then, we’ve accelerated more than 12,000 construction projects across the UK through robust direct award frameworks, expert consultancy services and innovative architectural design. But what is it that puts this model in a position to deliver better, more sustainable built environment and infrastructure projects?
Spades in the ground
As part of the UK’s recovery efforts from the pandemic, local authorities have been tasked with delivering high-quality construction projects at speed. Frameworks consist of a team of specialist contractors with masses of industry experience, and their vetted status on a legally compliant framework means that they’re ready to get spades in the ground as soon as our clients are ready, saving the time and considerable cost of usual procurement processes
Aligning contractors with local authorities
But what’s more, the support of an organisation like SCAPE aligns contractors with local authorities’ and blue light services’ goals and ambitions, including their 2030 net zero targets, from project inception through to completion and beyond. Research we conducted earlier this year with one of our delivery partners, Wates, found that the majority of local authorities in the UK had declared a climate emergency, and that achieving net zero carbon was among if not their number one priority.
As such, when we launched our new £14bn next-generation Construction framework in August this year, we included required commitments from contractors that would help our clients achieve net zero with each and every project delivered through the framework. This includes a target of net zero product design from this year, followed by net zero construction delivery next year. By having these commitments baked into our frameworks, we’re working to set a gold standard for public sector procurement, and one that aligns closely with the government’s Construction Playbook and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), five themes for construction 2021.
Achieving net zero
Among a host of best-practice guidance, the Playbook and the CSIC outlines the environmental and sustainable standards that both clients and contractors will need to adhere to achieve net zero.
But while guidance and techniques offer effective and practical ways of meeting net zero, we’ll never truly achieve it without a change in our behaviour. Specifically, this means taking a whole-life approach to planning and procurement, considering the delivery methods (like using modern methods of construction), conclusion and the eventual legacy of the project before it’s commissioned.
Creating a world that everyone deserves
With each day, we get a step closer to a more sustainable future. But we have a responsibility to accelerate this and meet net zero as soon as possible. By using our frameworks and our unique position working with both public sector clients and some of the UK’s largest contractors, we can harness the best of both, and create a world that everyone deserves.