Is our industry taking the recent shock announcements of rises in carbon levels, and its potential impact upon global warming, seriously enough?
The social and moral responsibility of the construction industry to engage in sustainable construction is two-fold. First, we must take measures to protect, and if possible enhance, the environment and prevent further damage. This can be done by planning communities to reduce car use, using energy and water more efficiently, minimising mineral extraction, and using natural resources more prudently.
Much of the damage from CO2 however is already done. The 1990s were the hottest years in Europe since records began and rainfall was up by at least 10%. An estimated 27% of Britain is already thought to be prone to flooding and rises in sea level could potentially lead to a significant planning dilemma. We must begin work to combat this now, considering not only how buildings must be equipped to guard against flooding and manage long periods of hot weather, but also to minimise their use of energy.
The development of amphibious houses in the Netherlands serves as a fitting example. The innovative wood and concrete structure buildings rise up to 3.6 m in the event of floods, protecting cables and plumbing. Far from being glorified house-boats, they are similar to Scandinavian-style wooden houses.
With two-thirds of MPs believing that global warming is at least as big a threat to the world as terrorism, these responsibilities should not be taken lightly. I would urge every last part of the construction industry to use the help and resources available to them, both to build for a sustainable future and to prevent further damage. Our responsibility lies not only now but also with future generations to come.
Dennis Lenard, chief executive, Constructing Excellence, via email