Climate change: an important trigger to embrace ambitious culture change

Understanding the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) strategy towards the industry’s transformation with a long-term renovation strategy

Climate change is a reality that we are currently experiencing. The risks that climate change poses imply that economies are subject to change and are expected to implement actions to mitigate the risks to enhance the chances to improve our environment in a responsible and timely manner. This is no small feat, especially when one considers how our socio-economic environment is continuously evolving, and this within the context of the post pandemic scenario and the uncertainty that the situation in Ukraine brings with it.

We talk about ‘green’; we hear about decarbonization of economies, but not everyone seems to realize the consequences of failing to address the issues and risks in a timely manner. Being proactive and adapting quickly is key for our future. The seemingly long-term affect may be a reason for reluctance to change, coupled with the fact that generally and traditionally, the majority are not yet accustomed to thinking long-term and remain predominately versed to stick to the shorter-term vision, triggering a ‘quick wins’ approach rather than solving grass roots problems that yield longer term benefits.

The building and construction sector is no stranger to the matter. Data suggests that this sector comes in second only to the transport and energy sector in terms of emissions contribution. In Malta, these contribute to around 15% of the total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and are a key sector in our efforts towards a climate-neutral EU; this apart from the indirect contribution to emissions due to the use of energy. As the economy continues to develop, the demand for and consumption of energy increase, particularly in Malta, which is mainly driven by a service-based economy. Hence, instilling behavioural changes towards more energy efficient building practices is pivotal in our endeavours towards climate neutrality.

The characteristics of our country, being an island state, the geographical location, and the way the built environment evolved over time, makes it even more challenging to embrace change and adopt measures to combat climate change. That said, these aspects are no excuse and, as a nation, the earlier we embrace and implement change, the better are the chances to succeed.

An important element underlying the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) strategy towards the industry’s transformation, is based on the long-term renovation strategy. This strategy, in combination with other measures, is looking at the reduction of carbon emissions from buildings in line with the climate neutrality ambition set by the European Green Deal and the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. It effectively encourages renovation and the uptake of modern technology as well as promoting renewable energy sources. This is a prime trigger towards the much-desired sectorial culture change. Emphasis and careful attention are being exerted on the process; strategy to action plan, as it is critical that the implementation process entails the balancing of a considerable number of measures. These include a combination of the right mix of regulations or policies, and incentives, including schemes and grants, to generate change. BCA is primarily dealing with culture change and is therefore attempting to raise awareness through educational campaigns and programmes that are considered of top priority as changes to behavioral aspects are required. This deals with solving the grass root problem first, followed by concurrent steps towards improvement – raising of standards.

Focusing on standards, the plan is to introduce building and construction national codes that will shape our industry, complemented by concurrent gradual regulatory provisions that should see the alignment of main stakeholders as well as addressing the vocational skills gap. These basic but essential elements will provide the foundation to support the industry’s preparedness and make the most of the opportunities that lay ahead. The Authority’s aim is to ensure that this transformation is supported in order to move towards a qualitative local construction related fabric whereby contractors, developers and professionals become an intrinsic part of the dynamic market embracing change. Essentially, in this way, the industry itself would lead.   

Although ambitious in its nature, there are major opportunities that may be taken up. If one had to simply look at a shift from traditional practices to adaptation of new methodologies and related proven rather innovative practices, these may well generate new niches and add value. Materials and components, new skills, and specialization provide various opportunities that go far beyond resistance to change but help stakeholders to be able to overcome financial and technical barriers.

Such opportunities have already been presented as the BCA launched a number of ‘pilot projects’ over the past weeks that relate to the themes which contribute to the transformation process. These include an accredited course for professionals on renovation and deep renovation aspects of buildings aimed at addressing capacity building and skills starting from professionals. One may visit the Malta Qualifications Database ( for more information about this course. The ‘Irrinova Darek’ scheme aims to start addressing the improvement of energy performance within existing private dwellings. Moreover, there have been changes in legislation relating to the ‘Wellbeing First Initiative’, aimed at upscaling processes and practices related to the construction process of buildings, promoting the importance of continuous risk assessment and protection to third parties.

Finally, BCA believes that awareness and knowledge sharing of good practices is key to industry’s transformation and is currently investing and preparing to improve on awareness campaigns. In fact, the BCA will be present at the forthcoming Valletta Green Festival and MARE Summit with the aim of creating more awareness on how one can reduce carbon emissions, essential to meet Malta’s 2050 low-carbon development goals. This would only be the start as the BCA fully understands the sense of urgency for a decarbonization campaign to be sustained and to help shape a more ambitious agenda for change, in education and across society, particularly amongst young people.

For further information visit