The Scottish government has committed to a target date of 2045 for net zero emissions of all greenhouses gases but did you know that the built environment (human-made spaces such as houses and offices) generates nearly 50% of annual global CO2 emissions? This highlights a pressing need to decarbonise new and existing buildings. Based just outside of Glasgow is not-for-profit organisation, Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST) which is looking to accelerate the built environment’s transition to zero-carbon.

We caught up with Tom Warren, Impact Manager – Sustainability at BE-ST to discuss how BE-ST is helping organisations to reduce the impact of the built environment on our planet for future generations to come.

Tom Warren BeSt

Tom Warren, Impact Manager – Sustainability at BE-ST

What is BE-ST?

BE-ST, formerly Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, is one of seven innovation centres funded by Scottish Government, Scottish Funding Council and Scotland’s Enterprise Agencies.

We refer to BE-ST as the launchpad to a zero-carbon built environment and consider ourselves to be the lynchpin that connects over 50,000 organisations and individuals in the sector’s ecosystem to work together to supercharge the adoption of solutions that will decarbonise our built world. We bring together world-class academia, government bodies and businesses of all sizes to work together to do that by supporting them in a number of ways including:

  • Developing new products, business models and services
  • Accessing funding streams
  • Exploring and benefitting from advanced equipment at our innovation campus in Hamilton and through our partners in the Highlands and Islands
  • Enhancing knowledge and skills

Accelerate to Zero

In 2022, we launched our new mission to the world, driven by our commitment to Accelerate to Zero – a sector-wide road map that we are building to ensure ready-made, scalable solutions are available for zero carbon standards.

BE-ST’s programmes span four main interlinked areas: digital transformation, modern methods of construction, sustainability and retrofit. We run a number of programmes and projects under Accelerate to Zero, with examples including:

  • The Make It Smart Hub: a free-to-use resource connecting the Highlands and Islands community with up-to-date training, equipment and business opportunities for low carbon construction and manufacturing.
  • Low Carbon Learning: free practical training, live webinars and online modules to gain skills in Passivhaus, Retrofit and Fabric and Structure.
  • Heatsource: a collaborative knowledge hub creating opportunities in low carbon heat.
  • Edinburgh Home Demonstrator: delivering approximately 75 homes using zero emissions heating and modern methods of construction (MMC).

It’s all about collaboration

We’ve seen first-hand that collaborating and sharing knowledge drives better decisions and outcomes - innovations such as the K-briq and Zed-House are living proof. Instead of knowledge existing in silos, working together unlocks new value for the industry and that’s what we do best.

Collaboration partners can access the innovation ecosystem as well as a range of flexible tools and support services including an extensive network of academic experts and the innovation campus which includes the UK’s first dedicated digital manufacturing, prototyping and future skills centre of excellence, now open for tours to the public.

Our programme of events works as a central part of this strategic mission, where we create a space for people to come together to learn, make connections, cocreate and ask questions.


In November 2021, the world came to Glasgow for COP26. During those two weeks our innovation centre became an exciting hub of inspiration, learning and action for the built environment around zero carbon solutions. The factory was home to innovative exhibits and events, including the unveiling of the UK’s first two-storey homegrown timber home. We brought together over 800 people to align around this single mission and on 3rd November 2021 our centre became an International Centre of Excellence, joining the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's network of International Centres of Excellence for High-Performance Buildings.

After the successes of BE@COP26 we wanted to keep the enthusiasm and momentum going so we developed a portfolio of more than 50 online and in-person events. The events run throughout the year and give attendees the chance to exchange knowledge, connect with people from across the sector and learn new skills. Each year we also host BE-ST Fest, which is a month-long festival showcasing best practice, new solutions, hands-on training and emerging opportunities.

To find out more information about BE-ST visit -