New NEC contract clause aims to tackle ‘greenwash’

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Construction contract provider NEC has announced a new clause to its NEC4 suite of contracts that it hopes will reduce ‘greenwash’.

The X29 secondary option clause will be used to support, incentivise and demonstrate carbon reduction initiatives on future builds.

NEC warned that a drive to decarbonise construction had led to a “significant increase in misleading or false information from operators” regarding their carbon reduction.

It quoted research from the Competition and Markets Authority across all sectors that found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading.

Long-term commitments made by businesses to achieve net neutrality “often lack tangible commitments”, added NEC.

It said it hoped the adoption of the new secondary option clause update – which will be published this month as a consultative version – will enable tangible sustainability and net-zero commitments between clients and suppliers.

NEC4 contract board member Ian Heaphy, and Stacey Collins, major projects partner & climate change specialist at law firm Pinsent Masons, will host a webinar in early April to discuss the secondary option consultation with the community, along with an audience Q&A to enable attendees to best understand how the option is intended to operate in practice.

Heaphy said: “Achieving net-zero emissions and sustainable outcomes is one of the top issues the sector must address. It is principally a technical issue that can be addressed in the scope, however there is now a growing view that standard contract conditions can be applied, to further support the reduction of carbon emissions in built assets and this is why the NEC has developed this new secondary option.

“Although the industry is already doing a lot, we feel a contract approach can help to formalise standards within the industry and create a level playing field for greater accountability. The new secondary option will enable the incentivisation of net zero and make it a legal obligation for parties to deliver impact.

“We’re releasing the option later this month, which will initially be in a consultative form. As a result, we’re calling on users to attend the session and [give] feedback on the elements to ensure the sector can get the most out of them.”

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