March 5, 2021

Four in ten construction firms not ready for net zero, new research reveals

A new survey of SME[1] decision makers conducted by YouGov on behalf of World Kinect Energy Services has revealed that some construction businesses still need to set sustainability goals to help reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

Reducing the world’s emissions and slowing down climate change has become a top priority. The UK Government recently set out its plan for a green industrial revolution to ensure the country reaches its 2050 net zero targets to reduce carbon emissions.

YouGov conducted the survey on behalf of leading energy management, fuel supply and sustainability company, World Kinect Energy Services, which included MDs and CEOs from over 12 different UK industries including manufacturing, hospitality, retail, medical and health, as well as construction.

The survey revealed that less than half of construction businesses (49%) have a sustainability plan in place, 43% are not taking active steps to reduce their carbon footprint and just under four in ten (38%) have no sustainability policies in place and no plans to introduce any. 

Overall, 40% of the 1,021 UK SMEs surveyed do not have a plan in place to become more sustainable, with 30% not intending to put a net zero strategy in place at all. 53%, however, do have a plan in place, which is hopeful that they will hit the 2050 deadline, yet only 34% have actually achieved any goals.

Barriers to sustainability

The study also sought to identify the barriers that could be preventing businesses from making further progress towards hitting sustainability targets, such as implementing energy saving solutions or adopting renewable energy technology.

Budget is cited as the biggest hurdle with over a third (37%) of construction businesses saying financial costs are the largest barrier to sustainability/ carbon neutrality.

While just under a quarter (24%) of operators in the construction sector have also seen their plans to become more sustainable halted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as priorities have shifted, or they have had to close.  

“Organisations must act now.”

Commenting on the research findings, Senior Director of Global Sustainability, Therese Gjerde, said: “Despite some sectors leading the way to reduce their carbon footprint, we are still coming across so many businesses who simply aren’t ready for net zero, which is reflected in this independent research.

“The 2050 deadline for net zero is a lot closer than people think and it can take time to develop a realistic, achievable strategy and even longer to implement it. Organisations must act now and start their sustainability journey by developing a long-term emissions reduction strategy that will benefit their impact on the environment.

“Net zero targets could be brought forward, so ignoring the deadline may lead to penalties or larger pay outs further down the line.”


[1] Businesses with one to 249 employees