3 minutes reading time (624 words)

Lendlease Sets Out an Ambitious Roadmap to an Absolute Zero Built Environment by 2040

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Lendlease Europe has recently set out a bold plan to achieve zero carbon emissions from the fuel we burn by 2025 and absolute zero-carbon without using offsets by 2040. Here we will look at how the company intends to achieve these targets and examine some of their key milestones. 

The built environment creates 40% of global carbon emissions, a fact recognised by Lendlease, which is committed to becoming a 1.5°C Aligned Company. Some of the steps on their roadmap include:

  • Replacing the use of diesel and gas on Lendlease construction sites with alternative clean fuels and technologies.
  • Ensuring their electricity is derived from clean, renewable energy sources including wind, solar, and tidal, and is backed by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin certificates (REGO).
  • Working with their supply chain partners to achieve an absolute zero-carbon supply chan by 2040.
  • Developing "green leases" to ensure that all Lendlease residents and tenants transition to renewable electricity by 2040.

As Lendlease recognises, these are ambitious targets. By excluding the use of offsets, they commit to eliminating carbon entirely rather than merely reducing it. That achieving this requires new answers and technologies that are yet to be fully developed emphasises the impressiveness of their level of commitment.

Scope 3 emissions - the greatest challenge 

 The Greenhouse Gas Protocol sets out three emission categories:

  • Scope 1 – Direct emissions from burning fuel
  • Scope 2 - Indirect emissions from electricity that an organisation purchases and uses
  • Scope 3 – All additional emissions from sources that supply an organisation but that they don't control directly.

The built environment industry's most troublesome emissions are Scope 3, particularly those produced during material production and by tenants who subsequently occupy the constructed buildings. Reducing these to zero is a massive challenge. So how does Lendlease propose to achieve that goal?

To date (December 2020), Lendlease has already achieved impressive reductions in Scope 1 and 2 emissions. These include a 75% reduction in absolute emissions and an 87% reduction in emission intensity. To attain absolute zero carbon by 2040, Lendlease will first minimise Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2025 whilst simultaneously developing detailed plans to transform their business to absolute zero carbon. 

Technical hurdles to a developer achieving net zero 

"Setting targets is important, but it is how we deliver against those targets that really matters… this is not going to be an easy task and that we don't yet have all the answers, but it is vital that we take action and we are committed to doing so."

Quote by Neil Martin, Lendlease European CEO

However, it is going to take more than will power and determination to achieve this. Although zero-carbon technologies promise substantial improvements, that final step to absolute zero remains elusive. Cement is one such area of concern. Cement production is a significant contributor to global carbon dioxide emissions, and though there are alternatives to its use in the built environment, eliminating it entirely is highly unlikely. Although replacing the fossil fuels used in cement manufacture is feasible, carbon dioxide is a by-product of the chemical process that breaks down limestone and cannot be eliminated. Similar challenges arise in the manufacture of steel for construction.

A possible route forward is carbon capture and sequestration, and multiple technologies are potentially available for this. Although they have substantial challenges, many pilot schemes are in development globally. schemes are in development globally.

Conclusions 

The Lendlease roadmap to an absolute carbon built environment by 2040 is both ambitious and bold. As a 1.5 oC Aligned Company, there is no doubting their commitment to these goals. The company has established a global Decarbonisation Investment Group (DIG) to identify investment opportunities necessary for achieving them. It is undoubtedly a major step forward.

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