How construction and whisky sectors are playing their part

Climate change is an issue for all industries, and different sectors have specific challenges they must rise to, using the tools that are available to help.

The construction sector faces issues in trying to source materials that are sustainable and move away from traditional approaches that generate vast amounts of carbon emissions.

Stephen Lewis, managing director of HFD Property Group, says that advances are being made in construction and property.

He explains: “Every day progress is made on more sustainable materials; more sustainable production of those materials; and more efficient and sustainable construction methods – such as offsite construction – to meet these challenges.

“Technology is also playing a greater role in how buildings are operated, using artificial intelligence and automation to reduce energy and resource consumption, as well as meeting maintenance and Covid-19 requirements.”

But materials are still causing problems when it comes to sustainability. Mike Robinson, chief executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS), who has collaborated with others to create Climate Solutions, a new online course, says: “There are a huge amount of gains still to be made in construction.

Cement is a global issue. Portland cement causes more emissions globally than aviation, but it doesn’t tend to be the focus of attention.”

One of the schemes he has been involved with is exploring an alternative cement product that would deliver a huge reduction in carbon emissions.

The Scotch whisky industry also has measures in place to reach net zero as quickly as possible.

Drinks giant Diageo, the biggest producer of Scotch whisky, has a 10-year sustainability action plan. Its ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ plan has 25 ‘bold and ambitious’ goals.

It says it will pioneer grain-to-glass sustainability with such initiatives as committing to working towards a low-carbon future by harnessing 100% renewable energy to achieve net zero carbon emissions across direct operations.

And it is working with suppliers to reduce indirect carbon emissions by 50%. By 2030 it says it will ensure that every drink it produces will take 30% less water to make than it does today.

By that time the business says it will be using 100% recycled content in plastic packaging and all of its packaging will be widely recyclable.

Last month, Nc’Nean, a young, independent, organic whisky distillery on the west coast of Scotland, became the first whisky distillery in the UK to reach net zero emissions for production, beating the industry target of 2040 by 20 years.

At the time, founder Annabel Thomas said: “From the moment we started out on this adventure, there have been plenty of people who told us that using renewable energy would be too hard and that organic barley would be impossible to work with.

“I am incredibly proud of our small team, who have put their hearts and souls into overcoming all of these barriers to create a delicious whisky with the lowest possible footprint.”

She added: “In a year where Scotland is hosting Cop26 and sustainability is such a hot topic, it is my hope that our work will inspire others in our industry.”

Earlier this month, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) announced it has partnered with Pawprint for Business to empower all employees to take the lead in tackling climate change.

Employees will be able to measure their own carbon footprints through Scottish eco tech
app Pawprint.

Edinburgh-based Pawprint is a behavioural change platform, designed to empower people to make small changes in their daily routines to deliver a lasting, positive impact on the environment.