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Net zero action plan 

What is net zero?

Net zero refers to achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. There are two ways individuals, businesses and countries can achieve net zero, which work in tandem: reducing existing emissions and actively removing greenhouse gases. 

In November 2020, the UK Government published its 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. It set out a path to net zero for the country by 2050. 

The Scottish Parliament passed the Climate Change (Emissions Reductions Targets) (Scotland) Act in September 2019. The Act set the Net zero target year as 2045.  

In 2021 Wales set a 2050 target year for achieving Net zero as a nation.

What is the impact of construction on carbon emissions?

Construction is a significant contributor to carbon emissions in the UK, it is estimated that:

  • 40% of UK emissions are from the built environment
  • 80% of the buildings in use in 2050 are already built
  • 27 million homes and 2 million other buildings require retrofitting

This page summarises CITB’s response to the net zero challenge, explaining the steps we are taking to establish the foundations that will support the industry over the coming years as it gears up to decarbonise. Our initial action plan explores how we will work with industry to meet the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments’ net zero goals.  

How can construction support the UK’s net zero ambitions?

Our net zero action plan focuses on the three industry challenges set out in our business plan

  1. Responding to industry’s skills demand 
  2. Developing the capacity and capability of construction training provision 
  3. Future skills needs 

Why is CITB taking this approach?

Industry employers and representative bodies have given CITB a clear steer that greater clarity is required on the skills required to prepare for net zero.

The Construction Leadership Council’s skills plan and Construct Zero initiatives identify the importance of expanding the skills, knowledge and behaviours relevant to net zero that will be required new entrants.

Our action plan is dynamic – it will develop as greater clarity is established as to where demand is and what the skills needs are. It will be updated regularly as new commitments are made in response to the mandate industry provides and new support is put in place. The early activities in the action plan are focused on: 

  • Undertaking the research and analysis, essential to building a better understanding of the skills industry says it needs to develop
  • Ensuring that standards and guidelines give clarity to industry, workers and training providers and ultimately lead to qualifications 
  • Progressively invest to enable industry to access the right training, development and skillsfor net zero construction
  • Working with governments to put in place the right support and investment 


Net zero resources and support available

What training and qualifications are available?

The following courses are grant supported for CITB registered employers:

Short courses:

  • Retrofit for older and traditional buildings
  • Retrofit insulation masterclass
  • Residential ventilation masterclass

Short Qualifications:

  • Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management Level 5 diploma
  • Insulation and Building Treatments (Construction) NVQ certificate, NVQ diploma (Level 2 and 3)/ SVQ (Scotland) Level 5
  • Thermal Insulation (Construction) NVQ (Level 2 and 3) / Diploma / SVQ (Scotland) Level 5

Long Qualifications:

  • Design and Construction of Zero Carbon and Ultra-Low Energy Buildings MSc
  • Green Building MSc/PG Cert/PG Diploma
  • Sustainable Architectural Studies MSc
  • Sustainable Building Conservation MSc
  • Sustainable Civil and Structural Engineering MSc
  • Sustainable Construction MSc/BSc/FdSc/HNC/HND
  • Sustainable Mega Buildings MSc

CITB’s Site Environmental Awareness Training Scheme (SEATS) has been developed for site supervisors/managers with the aim of providing candidates with an introduction to environmental issues on construction sites. The one-day interactive course provides learners with up to date environmental and sustainability knowledge by giving a thorough overview of the subject, relevant legislation and industry best practice.

How is CITB supporting net zero through standards?

Retrofit pathways have been developed for the National Occupational Standards of:

  • Construction Site Management
  • Construction Site Supervision

Training standards developed in line with net zero requirements for insulation and building treatments National Occupational Standard.

What other support is available?

CITB works to raise the profile of careers in construction, making it an attractive career pathway and increase the numbers of people considering a career in construction. This is essential if we are to build the capacity to deliver net zero.

CITB supports the industry to increase its workforce by attracting new entrants and career changers from a diverse range of backgrounds and support an inclusive working environment through our Fairness, Inclusion and Respect initiatives.

Our future plans for net zero  

What are CITB’s plans for future net zero support?

Support tools

The CITB Labour Forecasting Tool (LFT) will be updated with the capability to build scenarios for sub regional geographic areas of the skills demand associated with different regional retrofit strategies. This will support local government, employers and training providers in developing their own retrofit skills plans.

Explore options to support development of a pilot hub for a net zero repair, maintenance and improvement.

Funding support 

We will target funding at currently known and understood priority skill areas such as L5 retrofit co-ordinators and insulation installation skills. 

Additional net zero priority skill areas that are identified will also receive targeted funding, including geographically targeted funding if appropriate. 

How will construction standards and qualifications develop to meet net zero commitments?  

We will develop and update standards and qualifications to include net zero and sustainability with a particular focus on:   

  • National Occupational Standards
  • Apprenticeships, working with IfATE  
  • Traineeships 

Working with our partners on net zero

Working with:

Industry partners, we will conduct research to better understand the skills industry needs to deliver against net zero and where we will need to target our support, with an initial focus on retrofit and new homes. As a result of our research, any additional net zero priority skill areas identified will be considered for targeted funding, including geographically targeted funding if appropriate.

Combined Authorities and local government to develop local level evidence bases to support local skills plans and meet local industry needs for net zero. Using our labour forecasting tool, we plan to start regional analysis on the need for net zero and retrofit skills to help better inform industry on regional training needs.

Training providers, industry and federations to understand evolving net zero skills needs and barriers to net zero training. We will also work with training providers to support their understanding of the requirements for any changing standards in response to net zero.

Governments on skills policy to meet the sector’s long term net zero needs.

Useful resources 


Supply Chain Sustainability School’s carbon calculator enables businesses to establish their carbon emissions as a first step to reducing them.

Achieving net zero with BSI is a blog summarising all of the BSI standards applicable to the Built Environment.

The LETI Climate Emergency Design Guide covers 5 key areas: operational energy, embodied carbon, the future of heat, demand response and data disclosure. It includes setting the requirements of four key building types, small scale residential, medium and large scale residential, commercial offices and schools.

Retrofit Academy offers free to download guides on a range of retrofit topics to support employers and help them to address any potential skills gaps.

Tools and Training

Supply Chain Sustainability School (In partnership) range of courses on sustainability and net zero. Part funded by CITB, access to FREE training and development and tools for businesses, in a wealth of topics relevant to net zero including Sustainability, Digital, FIR, Lean Construction, Management, Offsite, People and Procurement.

STBA Retrofit Wheel tool allows you to choose your range of measures and it then categorises the risks associated with these and provides hyperlinks to the peer assessed research that has been produced. The Wheel was updated in 2020 thanks to a grant from Trustmark and it is currently the backbone of the PAS2035 work in the UK.

Net Zero Carbon Foundations by BRE is a course introduces climate change and its local and global implications. It provides key definitions, whilst introducing the global policy landscape and pathways towards net-zero carbon. This course is open to anyone who works in the built environment or infrastructure and is passionate about sustainability. 

Resources for businesses operating in Scotland

Traditional Buildings & Energy Efficiency Retrofit Guide produced by Historic Environment Scotland, describes retrofit measures which can be used to improve the energy efficiency of traditional buildings, whilst maintaining as much of their historic fabric and creating healthy indoor environments. The guide also looks at compatibility with the existing fabric, compliance with building standards and the planning process.

The installer skills matrix, developed by the sector skills bodies, industry and other key stakeholders in Scotland is adopted and fully integrated into the British Standards Institution (BSI) Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 2030 installer standards and Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) installer standards to reflect Scotland's skills needs.

Skills Development Scotland’s Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan 2020 – 2025 (PDF, 2.4MB) focuses on immediate actions to support the development of the skills needed to meet the climate change challenge and longer term actions that will allow the skills system to respond more effectively for the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan to function as a responsive and evolving document.

Resources for businesses operating in Wales

Working Together to Reach Net Zero (PDF, 2.3MB) is the Welsh Government's overarching plan to reach Net Zero across all industries and sectors. Includes skill-specific ambitions within some sections.

Optimised RetroFit Programme: training, produced by the Welsh Government provides details of the qualifications available in a range of key disciplines to deliver Welsh Government's Optimised Retrofit Programme. It can be used by employers to help better understand the training landscape and any potential skills gaps in their business.