With the spotlight on Glasgow as the venue for the global COP26 climate conference, I took the opportunity to attend two local events to examine how the built environment and the construction industry can help Scotland to reduce its carbon emissions.

Equipping trades with ‘green’ skills

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Laura Slater, Scotland’s Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy, and Biodiversity

At a skills event in Glasgow, Laura Slater, Scotland’s Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy, and Biodiversity, outlined the Scottish Government’s plans for a green skills hub. Skills Development Scotland showcased the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, which aims to develop the current and future workforce to help deliver on our climate change targets.

FMB members emphasise that their skilled operatives require relevant upskilling or bolt-on training provision to existing roles in order to develop the necessary ‘green’ skills. Policymakers are keen to embed sustainability or green competency across a wide range of apprenticeship frameworks in Scotland to develop climate change literacy. For the FMB and our members, supporting small and medium-sized builders to be part of this skills journey to help deliver net-zero will be critical. Capacity and willingness from small, local construction firms across Scotland to undertake the work, especially when it comes to retrofitting our existing homes, is also essential if the country is to meet its climate change targets.

Retrofitting one million homes across Scotland

The Construction Scotland Innovation Centre near Glasgow.

Retrofitting was also the key topic at the Zero-Carbon Horizons Summit at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. More than one million homes across Scotland will need to have some form of energy retrofit measure applied by 2030. Or to put it another way, on current projections, this means over 113,000 homes per year. Or over 2,100 per week. A daunting challenge to say the least.

More than one million homes across Scotland will need to have some form of energy retrofit measure applied by 2030.

FMB member feedback illustrates there is little evidence of demand from homeowners for energy efficiency or energy retrofit upgrades to their property. Until this changes, why would members invest in reshaping their business now to serve a potential marketplace? Other pieces of what could be called the retrofit jigsaw are attracting ‘green finance’ from the private sector, consumer protection, EPC’s (or not!), and the adoption of a National Retrofit Strategy for Scotland and the UK to drive action.

Retrofit and energy efficiency

Retrofit and energy efficiency

If we are to tackle climate change, we need to make our homes greener and we are committed to the role SME builders have in delivering this.

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Gordon Nelson

Gordon Nelson

FMB Scotland Hub Director, Federation of Master Builders

Director, Federation of Master Builders Scotland

Gordon has nearly twenty years’ experience of working in membership organisations in Scotland and joined the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in 2014. Prior to this, he worked at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and for Unilever in business development, membership management and business-to-business marketing roles. Amongst his responsibilities in his role as the Director for FMB Scotland are public affairs, media relations, governance and representing member’s interests to Scottish policy makers and stakeholders within the Scottish construction industry. Gordon is the Secretary of the Cross-Party Group on Construction in the Scottish Parliament, and he is a member of the Scottish Building Standards Futures Board. Gordon represents the FMB on Scotland’s Construction Industry Collective Voice: which is comprised of the leading construction trade and professional bodies. In spring 2023 Gordon was appointed as an industry co-chair of the Construction Leaderships Forum’s (CLF) Transformation Board.

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