Green is good for business, good for society and it’s the only way forward
I read with interest the new report on ‘Re-energising the green agenda’, published by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment. I agree with the finding that there is still much to do, if we are to meet the challenging carbon reduction targets. I also believe there is an opportunity to re-energise the approach to sustainable construction through the new Industrial Strategy, coupled with improving market conditions.
The report suggests there should be a bigger role for the Green Construction Board, which I co-chair with the Rt Hon Michael Fallon. I am pleased to confirm that our work will continue, feeding into the work of the Construction Leadership Council. Our role is one of leadership and partnership, bringing government and industry together to drive the green agenda forward. The passion and commitment of our members remains as strong as ever and there are a number of events planned to share some of the good progress we have achieved.
I believe that self-sufficient buildings which generate their own power and have no net impact on the environment are the future.
Construction 2025 includes the bold target of a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions (over the 1990 baseline), which is set against the government’s existing target of an 80 per cent reduction by 2050. To achieve this, weall need to show visible leadership, collaborate more and tackle the impact of existing buildings.
Following Paul Morrell’s excellent work on the Low Carbon Construction Routemap, we are now developing some market sector focused activities around heating and lighting in buildings.
A common misconception is that energy saving measures cost more money, so it’s important to set out the case for making new and existing buildings greener. It is possible for owners to adapt existing buildings to be energy efficient through green retrofit programmes with no upfront capital outlay. There are external funding mechanisms, including payback periods, feed-in tariffs and government incentives, which can cover the cost of installing energy efficient measures.
Green buildings not only cost less to run, they also attract higher rents and sale prices.
In addition, research indicates greener buildings lead to a happier, healthier and more productive workforce, with reduced absenteeism.
We will shortly be publishing work that looks at carbon and costs in the infrastructure area. In my experience, focusing upon reducing embodied carbon in infrastructure tends to lead to reduced capital and operational costs.
I believe that self-sufficient buildings which generate their own power and have no net impact on the environment are the future. There is scope for buildings, or more realistically developments, to generate more power than they need, which can be fed back into the national grid. The key is to approach developments more holistically and to think about the biodiversity impact of the collection of buildings and infrastructure within the locality.
Green is good for business, good for society and it’s the only way forward.
Mike Putnam is the president and chief executive officer of Skanska UK