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Earth Overshoot Day 2023: A stark reminder for the construction industry

Sustainability By Nella Scott, Head of PR & Communications – 17 July 2023


Head and shoulders shot of Nella in London office

Nella Scott

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This year, Earth Overshoot Day – the day where humanity’s annual demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what Earth can regenerate – will fall on August 2nd, five days later than it did in 2022. This might seem like a win for those campaigning to #movethedate, but genuine advancements in reducing demand actually amount to less than one day, with the remaining four being due to improvements in the dataset.

According to the latest National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts, which tracks countries’ performance up to 2022, while the date for the annual Earth Overshoot Day has remained constant in recent years, it is difficult to discern how much of this can be attributed to economic slowdown and deliberate decarbonisation efforts.

The reality is that overshoot reduction is still far too slow. If we are to reach the IPCC’s target of reducing carbon emissions to 43% worldwide by 2030 (compared to 2010), we need to move Earth Overshoot Day by 19 days annually for the next seven years.

For the construction industry, this day is always a stark reminder of the responsibility of continuing to focus our efforts to decarbonise. Our industry is still responsible for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions, and while the conversation has shifted in recent years with many companies setting targets to help them decarbonise, to date, little tangible change has occurred.

We have a huge role to play in ensuring that the date of Earth Overshoot Day continues to move backward instead of creeping forward to occur earlier in the year. It is our responsibility to design for a more sustainable built environment. We must reduce the strain our industry places on our planet’s ecological resources, for example through designing out unnecessary materials, reducing energy demand and focusing on the retrofit of existing building stock.

Cundall recently made a public commitment to achieving net zero carbon on all our projects by 2030. Alongside that commitment we have set ourselves a pathway for how we want to achieve our goal, starting with 25% of projects to be net zero carbon by the end of 2024.

This is an ambitious commitment where we are putting our values first and we know we have set ourselves a massive task, however we are already working with a wide range of clients on projects with net zero carbon ambitions, and we are keen to work alongside others who share our passion for a more sustainable built environment.

We are dedicated to ensuring that we do not undertake this journey alone but bring the whole industry along with us. We are collaborating with clients and our peer networks of design, construction, property development, facilities management, and real estate investment stakeholders to make that happen, because only if we work together can we make a measurable impact and help make sure the date of Earth Overshoot Day keeps moving in the right direction.