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UKREiiF Day Two Round-Up Beyond Net Zero Pavilion

17 May 2023
Reading Time: 3 mins

A new report outlining how the UK could win a £70bn a year "prize" by leading the global charge to clean growth was launched at UKREiiF today.

The report, called "Sustainability Superpower" was commissioned by UKBCSD and written by former government economist Chris Walker. It was sponsored by industry partners Prologis and Inspired Plc.

The report presented two scenarios facing the UK: a "just enough" strategy in which it continued on its current course of near net zero by 2050, and a "beyond net zero" scenario in which it took the lead in the energy transition and maximised its potential in wind, solar, retrofit and other clean growth areas.

The "beyond net zero" strategy was forecast to bring £70bn in annual economic benefits, support 654,000 British jobs, and see the UK export £17bn of clean energy every year.

The report was launched by UKBCSD at the Beyond Net Zero pavilion on the second day of the UKREiiF conference in Leeds.

Speaking at the launch, Jason Longhurst, chairman of UKBCSD, said sustainable growth was now firmly in the economic and political mainstream.

"We have taken the language away from 'could we possibly deliver' and have started putting figures on it," he said. "We have gone beyond mere viability - it is now a competitive area and UK plc should be playing a role in that."

The pavilion also hosted a string of talks and panel sessions focused on innovation, opportunities, and challenges in "clean" construction.

The day began with a keynote address by Sir Andrew McAlpine.

That was followed by an early-morning panel session on understanding the total impact of projects in a net zero environment.

The session was introduced by Angela Blake, assistant director of Bradford Council, and featured Phil Hampshire and Anthony Davis, co-founders of 3ADAPT.

3ADAPT have been working with Keyland Developments on developing a model for "positive living".

The scheme involves better quantification to drive better, more sustainable growth in housing developments.

The mid-morning session - moderated by Chris Carr, chairman of the Federation of Master Builders - tackled issues around mainstreaming sustainable housing.

Panelists included Nigel Banks, R&D director at ilke Homes; Nicola Clayton, Business Development Director at Etopia Homes; and Sarah Chilcott, MD of Planning Portal.

The pre-lunch panel session focused on innovation. It was chaired by Professor Amir Sharif of the University of Bradford and featured Steve Gilley, Director of Infrastructure at the University of Bradford; Iain Jenkinson, Executive Director of Planning at CBRE; Stephanie Townley, partner at Addleshaw Goddard; and Joanne Hyde, Strategic Director for Corporate Resources at Bradford Council.

Introducing the session, Professor Sharif noted that Bradford was the leading university for providing AI programmes in the UK.

The afternoon began with a session asking how public and private sector partners could "pick up the pace" of change.

The panel consisted of Emma Harvey-Smith, Programme Director at the Green Finance Institute; Eleni Polychroniadou, co-founder of Sintali; Lydia Dutton of CBRE; David Willock, Managing Director for ESG and Finance at Lloyds Bank; and Anand Rajagopal of Phoenix Group.

Emma Harvey-Smith said: "The time for pure analysis has been and gone.

"We need to act now. We need to undertake actual projects. We needs innovative financial solutions, we need bankers to be speaking to their clients.

"You can't fatten a pig by weighing it."

David Willock stressed the need for flexibility, pointing out that different solutions were needed for different sectors.

He warned investors would have to adapt their attitude to risk appetite, adding that while there was "a lot of liquidity in the easy areas", it was other areas that needed investment.

Mr Rajagopal called for a more supportive regulatory system that allowed a more flexible investment approach among pension funds and insurers.

The final session, on building sustainable communities and creating value, looked at Springfield Village - the redevelopment of Springfield University Hospital. The site was a partnership between  Sir Robert McAlpine Capital Ventures and Kajima Partnerships and put world-class mental health facilities and well-being at the heart of a broader community, with a 32-acre park and 839 sustainable homes with a district heating system.