By Knauf Insulation
June 11, 2024

A winter to forget for the construction industry. The data bears out what we’ve all experienced – unwelcome falls in market confidence and volumes in the first quarter of this year. But as the days lengthen, there are reasons for cautious optimism. In housebuilding, the fundamental drivers remain the same, and the broader economic picture is beginning to improve. Indicators for the second half of the year look positive – possible green shoots of recovery as we move through spring.

What will that recovery look like? For one thing, it will increasingly be shaped by low-carbon products. It’s striking how much more often this comes up in conversations with merchants and their customers. Amid the usual focus on compliance, availability and cost, whole life carbon is now firmly on the agenda.

This makes sense. As we reduce the operational carbon footprint of the UK’s buildings (in large part thanks to insulation), the focus shifts to embodied carbon.

National legislation is only a matter of time – whole life carbon limits already exist in parts of Northern Europe, and the UK won’t be far behind. In the meantime, local standards, public scrutiny and sustainability commitments from major industry players are driving action now.

Embodied carbon is becoming a consideration, and the supply chain needs to respond. How? By offering lower-carbon products wherever possible, supported by robust data that substantiates their sustainability credentials. This all begins with EPDs, the Environmental Product Declarations that enable embodied carbon comparisons between construction products. It’s time for these third-party verified documents to become a hygiene factor for the construction industry.

There are complexities to navigate. Not all EPDs are made equal, and that can make it challenging to effectively compare products from different manufacturers. The entire supply chain will need to adapt. We’ll play our part by providing EPDs for our full product range, to the latest standard – and creating resources to help customers and branch staff get up to speed.

The prize is worth it. A lower-carbon construction industry, with the products and insight it needs to build low-carbon buildings. The UK deserves nothing less.