The challenges facing sustainable construction

The challenges facing sustainable construction

One of the most important topics to emerge at the start of the 21st Century in construction was sustainability. There is a high demand for construction industry leaders to commit to deliver a sustainable built environment. However, still in 2017, leaders face many challenges: how does the current economic and political environment effect the journey towards sustainable construction?

In 2014 we commented on the UK Government’s plans to aim for new non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon by 2019. However, in 2015 these plans were dropped, the Government announcing that they: “do not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, but will keep energy efficiency standards under review, recognising that existing measures to increase energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to become established.”

Without pressure, or indeed increased support, from the Government companies must take their own initiative to become sustainable developers. In 2014 we observed that the industry were slow to respond to these Government regulations, but what does that say about the growth of sustainable construction in 2017? Without government pressures will developers follow the sustainable route?

One issue we commented on in 2014 was companies feeling the pressure to meet time constraints whilst undergoing sustainable practices. Will using green materials be seen as more viable now that developers aren’t under any government time constraints?

Many people perceive sustainable building to be expensive, however as customer demand for sustainability grows this becomes a less viable excuse. From the World Green Building Trends 2016 Smart Market Report, we can determine that high-performance buildings can be sold at a premium. The average green building worth 7 percent more than a traditional one. Green buildings are less costly to operate, making them more desirable to clients and according to the report the market demand for green buildings is doubling every three years.

Building green can feel expensive initially but the rewards further down the line are great.

The main challenge for the industry however is actually achieving sustainability, never mind paying for it. The construction sector is the biggest consumer of raw materials and generates between 25 to 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. Climate change and water management are two major issues for the industry. A new approach to project management is required for the industry to really get to grips with sustainable construction.

We don’t yet know what Brexit will mean for the UKs sustainability plans, with our contribution to the Paris Agreement being roped in with the rest of the EU new commitments will need to be drawn up once we leave the European Union. All the construction industry can do for now is individually commit to reducing the waste and pollution outputs of their developments.

Are there any other challenge that face the industry in tackling sustainability? Let us know on LinkedIn.

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