Building’s “green gurus” raised some timely points on the commercial reality of building sustainably (16 March). On the one hand, we recognise that this is a thriving industry with great potential; on the other, housing developers see upfront costs and little hope of recovering them.
Irrespective of the morality of building sustainably, we must face commercial reality and the need for there to be a “green pound” for the industry to chase.
My firm is working on an ever-increasing number of projects where clients are looking to push boundaries to deliver sustainable buildings. There are many reasons for this but all suggest that building sustainably is becoming more economically viable.
First, we have the whole-life argument. The Stern review on the economics of climate change demonstrates that rising energy costs and the development of sustainable technology have made sustainability increasingly attractive.
More immediately, there is also growing evidence that organisations are prepared to pay for greener buildings to be seen as sustainable businesses. Last, as we gain experience in building sustainably and take this from one project to the next, the opportunity exists to reduce upfront costs – often the biggest obstacle of all.
We’re on a learning curve and for clients debating how far to take sustainability, the expertise of a project team with a track record in delivering such buildings can be the difference between commercial viability and “back to the drawing board”.
While commercial gain and the sustainability agenda may seem strange bedfellows, the reality is that the green pound is becoming stronger and with it comes the best chance of realising a greener future.
John Worrall, managing director, Stradform