The case for investment in green building solutions has never been stronger, let’s hope the government listens

Sarah Richardson, editor of Building

With the UK still in the grip of recession and a meat related scandal dominating the national headlines, it would perhaps only take a surprise chart appearance from The Charlatans for some to believe we were back in the early nineties. Not Tim Yeo, however. The chair of the energy and climate change select committee, writing in Building this week, makes an important distinction between now and back then, when he first took an interest in climate change. In his words, two decades ago “business and industry were largely hostile to the climate change agenda … They are now among the leaders in addressing the challenge”.

Yeo’s comments are borne out by our 50 young stars of sustainability for 2013, profiled this week. Between them, they demonstrate the extent of talent and commitment that continues to emerge from the industry in relation to finding sustainable construction solutions and reducing the built environment’s carbon emissions. Their achievements so far, together with the impressive investment from their companies in developing sustainability expertise at a time of unparalleled economic pressure, is genuinely encouraging for both the battle against environmental damage and the future of construction in the UK.

However, as Building’s Green for Growth campaign continues to highlight, there is only so much that industry can do without stronger commitment from government to promote investment in sustainable development, especially in an environment where many businesses are competing not just to differentiate themselves, but to survive.

There is only so much that industry can do without stronger commitment from government to promote investment in sustainable development

For that reason, Green for Growth’s call to action in five key areas, including the Green Deal, low carbon housing and display energy certificates, will be central to our presence at Ecobuild next week, where we will put the campaign’s aims in front of ministers and senior Whitehall officials. We will also be promoting the industry’s achievements in sustainable construction, with a reception for delegates to meet our 50 young stars of green building, and presentations from members of our global clients group on technology at the cutting edge of sustainable construction worldwide. Building’s journalists will also be chairing seminars aimed at deepening the debate around sustainable building at the London event.

The Green for Growth campaign has already attracted more than 250 company and individual signatures, but every voice counts, and you can add your support online or in person at our Ecobuild stand next week. The case for investing in sustainable construction - an action that will boost jobs in the industry and grow the economy, at the same time as capitalising on the industry’s skill and ingenuity to safeguard our environmental future - seems like a no-lose situation for government.

But with a series of damaging policy U-turns and a watering down of environmental objectives threatening to destroy the Cabinet’s green credentials, as well as the bizarre scenario of Brussels threatening to overturn one of the few policies the UK government has introduced to stimulate green building, the argument for such investment has to be made clearly and quickly.

Sarah Richardson, editor