How Should UK Businesses Adapt to Climate Change Acceleration?

The window for a smooth transition to net zero is closing fast. That’s according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change¹, which warns that environmental risks are increasing more quickly than scientists previously expected. 

Recording-breaking weather events are becoming more common – just look at Europe’s recent spate of extreme heat waves. Such events will continue to affect supply chains and drive public demand for more decisive action. 

But what does this mean for the UK’s construction firms in the short-term?

Companies face greater scrutiny

Construction has made huge efforts in recent years. Firms have been under extreme pressure to change their operating models to reduce carbon emissions, and recent reports suggest the majority have made strong progress².

This is down to a number of key factors – from widespread efforts to increase the use of renewables to the introduction of carbon-saving strategic equipment like mobile welfare units and mobile tower lights

However, the revelation that climate change is accelerating can only increase the pressure on construction firms. A recent pledge to eliminate 78% of diesel from construction by 2035³ is positive news, but many argue this is not enough. One report earlier this year claimed that the UK had “lost a decade” in its battle against climate change – and construction must act fast to catch up.

Net zero goals won’t change – but firms must

The current net zero deadline of 2050 is unlikely to change. This doesn’t mean the pressure to decarbonise will not increase though. With some firms already claiming they will reach net zero in the next few years, the commercial and reputational damage of not acting will soon become clear.

This could manifest in multiple ways, including:

  • Losing out on government contracts, as net zero firms are treated preferentially
  • Rising costs, as experts warn of future taxes on carbon emitting supply chains
  • Lack of investment, as measurable progress on ESG is increasingly expected

The question is no longer whether construction leaders will respond to reports of climate change acceleration – it’s how they can do so faster than competing firms.

Light Towers on Construction Site

3. Three ways to respond to climate acceleration

1. Focus on measurement

As Richard Robinson, deputy co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, says: climate progress is made through measurement. Leaders need to quantify their current emissions and understand exactly how each change to their strategic approach will affect their environmental impact. This is especially important for avoiding offshoring of emissions via tier 3 suppliers.

At Welfare Hire, we’ve created a useful tool to enable such quantification. It offers a transparent measure of the effect each of our mobile welfare units and mobile tower lights will have on your emissions:

2. Scrutinise your vendors

From the materials you use to the mobile welfare unit on your site, the supply chain is construction’s achilles heel when it comes to carbon emissions. Leaders must carefully scrutinise every vendor they work with, and ask them how they are planning to reduce their own emissions.

Wherever possible, leaders should opt to partner exclusively with companies that are able to offer clear readings on their products’ emissions. This will make planning far easier, and enable you to map out a faster path to net zero.

3. Find strategic partners

Climate change acceleration demands faster net zero efforts. But for most firms, this will only be possible with innovation. Staying on top of cutting-edge technology trends is challenging though, especially across the numerous areas that impact construction firms’ emissions. 

Strategic partners like Welfare Hire are therefore vital. We pride ourselves not only on supplying our customers with eco-friendly mobile welfare units and lighting towers, but keeping them abreast of changes in the industry – and making sure they benefit from every new innovation that comes to market.



How Kelling Group Continues to Push Our Industry Forward

Partnership has never been more important for ambitious construction and infrastructure projects. With pressure to decarbonise supply chains, improve efficiency and deliver better results faster, who you choose to rely on for strategic equipment is a big question.

That’s why we believe it’s important for our customers to understand exactly what kind of company they are dealing with. But we don’t want to only be defined by our past achievements – we’d rather be understood based on our future.

In this article, we want to explore three factors that form the core of our company’s future – and what we’re currently doing to push things forward.

1. Localised support

Service has always been one of our core strategic ‘pillars’; that’s why we pride ourselves on delivering our welfare vans and van mounted MEWPs anywhere in the UK within 24 hours. But quality service is not only about delivery, maintenance and a responsive support team – it’s about understanding our customers’ specific needs.

The recent opening of our Scottish Depot is a perfect example. With a dedicated team operating out of our facility in the central belt, we are now able to deliver a different level of support to Scottish projects. We provide access to our market-leading range of mobile welfare units, and can supplement that with localised support for our Scottish customers.

This is emblematic of our approach to partnership: as we expand our offering, it is not simply in pursuit of growth – it’s to understand better and cater to our customers’ unique challenges and needs.


2. Investments in excellence

Our fleet has long since been the UK’s youngest and largest. This in turn provides an advantage we are intent on leveraging to continue improving our offering.

We are currently expanding our fleet, purchasing new mobile welfare units, mobile lighting towers and van mounted MEWPs to support growing demand, as well as upgrading existing equipment to ensure it remains the very best on the market. 

Such investments are essential for us to live up to our partners’ expectations. They know we are able to replace key equipment quickly, provide more units whenever needed and keep their projects running no matter what.

3. Solving problems through innovation

At our core, we are a company that focuses on our customers’ deeper needs. Our customers don’t simply need a quality mobile welfare unit; they need a way to reduce their carbon emissions. Our partners don’t just want a van mounted MEWP; they need flexibility and control over where they are able to work at heights. 

This mentality inevitably leads us to innovation, and we are always pushing our fleet forward with exciting new additions. This year alone we’ve launched the EcoXi and our Access Zero fully-electric van mounted MEWP; as well as the recent launch of our new mobile WC products to enhance hygiene and employee experience that also strengthens our proposition.

From providing better access platform training to making green technology more widely available, our approach empowers our partners to solve many of their toughest problems – and benefit from our insatiable desire to continue moving the needle forward.


Why Electric Vehicles Present Infrastructure Leaders With a Powerful Opportunity

The arguments in favour of Electric Vehicles (EVs) are now very familiar. They reduce carbon emissions, minimise air pollution and provide a more sustainable means of transport. 

But the question is how long until adoption is widespread? 

More than 10 million EVs were sold last year, and that number is expected to reach 14 million in 2023. With the government’s pledge to phase out – and eventually make illegal – the sale of new oil and petrol vehicles, this growth can only increase.

What does it mean for your infrastructure projects?

It depends on your perspective. 

Because if you seize the opportunity, it could deliver a  substantial competitive advantage.

The genie is not going back into the bottle

Now that it is possible for an infrastructure project to use fully-electric Van Mounted MEWPs, there will be an inevitable chain reaction. Early adopters will improve their ESG scores rapidly, which in turn will help them win more tenders. 

Once this becomes clear, competitors will have to adopt EVs just to keep up – at which point those that have got ahead of the curve will have the headstart of being used to this new way of working.

The advantage of this emerging technology is the ease of integration into current operations. With us as the UK’s pioneering supplier of a fully electric fleet of Van Mounted MEWPs, our customers find that incorporating these vehicles into their daily routines can be a seamless process. The experience of operating an electric vehicle quickly becomes second nature. The earlier you embrace this change, the sooner you can begin reaping the benefits of electric technology – giving you an upper hand in this rapidly evolving sector.


Electric vehicles will only improve

While the current crop of fully-electric Van MEWPs produces significant savings, there is already research suggesting that the life-cycle emissions of a typical EV will be cut by 73% by 2050. As usage grows, production becomes more efficient and the grid is optimised, it’s inevitable that the rest of the industry will cotton on to the undeniable benefits.

That is part of the reason we have made sure to get ahead of the curve. We believe our role is not just to provide our customers with quality equipment, but to help them embrace innovation and carve out a more positive future.

We are confident that Electric Vehicles will be a major part of that future for the infrastructure sector, and we are proud to be the first to take bold action and offer ambitious, forward-thinking project leaders a fully-electric fleet.

Want to learn more about Access Zero?