Our Race to 2050

By Simon Underwood, CEO Elements Europe.

The UK Green Building Council says that around 10% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions are directly associated with construction, and with approximately 60% of construction output being new build projects it is clear that everyone in the industry has a part to play in creating sustainable buildings and joining the race to 2050.

At Elements Europe, we have left the start line and are excited to make positive changes with direction from our shareholders GS E&C, global engineering and construction group who are already leading the charge in environmental policy.

Our short-term objectives are on the measurement and management of the business overall and planning our roadmap to a carbon neutral future that is sustainable for the business.

We have been making conscious ESG steps since we were founded 16 years ago however our journey really gained pace two years ago, analysing our manufacturing processes and how we can make improvements. From this stringent audit we developed a bespoke KPI system which tracks the lifecycle of every module and pod within our manufacturing facility to provide real time data. This information drives a number of our business objectives including quality and efficiency as well as assist our environmental strategy. Efficient data collection has become central to the processes we put in place and is driving positive change that is being seen across our ESG policy.

In 2021 our manufacturing facility aims to achieve a 3% reduction in electricity and 3% reduction in water usage across the site. This will be achieved through the environmental education of our staff, with the aim to improve this reduction rate year on year and in the very near future, we will start construction of a purpose-built facility which will focus heavily on renewable energy. Our strategy is to maximise the use of renewable energy generation and storage such as solar, air and ground source heat pumps, generating electricity stored in batteries within our production facilities.

For the last 16 years Elements Europe has run a strict waste management and grey water recycling program segregating waste carefully for use in reconstituted products and we make a conscious effort to ensure we reuse materials where we can. Historically this had a financial drive however in recent years we have been educating our teams on the benefits of reused material for the environmental benefits and our company carbon goals.  Reduce, reuse and recycle is at the heart of everything we do.

Also on the factory floor we are testing a number of products that are more environmentally friendly, for example using silicone foil tubes that can be recycled as opposed to unrecyclable plastic silicone tubes. Those items that seem like small insignificant changes, over a long period of time will make significant impact in the long term.

More impactful immediate change is also easily made. By delivering design and build modular contracts we ensure the key focus is to reduce waste through design. 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from housing, we therefore ensure we are helping this reduction by designing to Future Housing Standards. The same is true for our supply only contracts, ensuring our systems are sustainable and fit for purpose now and in the future is crucial to driving down our carbon emissions.

We are very proud that our continuous measurement and analysis of our environmental impact has proven that we have improved recycling by approximately 77% compared to traditional construction and how we design, manufacture and train our production teams has all contributed to us having proven a reduction in waste of 35% compared to traditional construction.

260 years on from the start of the first Industrial Revolution we are privileged to be part of this Green Industrial Revolution. It is an exciting time to be in the construction industry and what can be seen as a huge mountain to climb to get to net zero, through effective leadership, innovation, best practise and importantly shared knowledge we are confident that we will achieve it.