I am delighted that the construction industry in the commercial sector is enjoying a five-year high (14 January, page 20). I am also particularly pleased builders are benefiting from restored confidence within manufacturing companies.

I would now strongly urge those investing in new buildings to consider the true extent of the operational and environmental price incurred following the capital expenditure. The running cost of a commercial building over its lifetime is typically four times the price of its construction.

Buildings create conundrums. For example, recent reports suggest that businesses have experienced 30% increases in electricity bills, yet air conditioning, lighting and heating are obvious comfort factors expected by staff. For most, the greatest investment in a building is that people work effectively within it.

The answer lies in judicious planning and early investment in new technology that will reduce costs substantially.

The time has come for all the disparate groups involved in building design to employ joined-up thinking when it comes to efficiency. Architects, consultants, contractors and equipment manufacturers must agree on efficiency objectives from the outset. Smarter investment and the adoption of a convergent approach will result in cost and energy savings as well as more intelligent buildings.

Richard Hipkiss, Schneider Electric