Building and the UK Green Building Council's prestigious Sustainability Awards are open for entries and, this year, there’s also a one-day conference for green experts to debate the latest challenges

Turns out, saving the world isn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds. Building more sustainably will make a dramatic difference to the planet’s fortunes in the long term, but for those on the front line, it means years of hard graft, head-scratching and number-crunching. But while the vagaries of meeting regulations and aspirations on green building may often feel like a lonely and thankless task, there is one way to get recognition for your efforts …

Building’s Sustainability Awards are now in their fifth year, and are the industry’s most prestigious benchmark for excellence in green construction. Building has again teamed up with the UK Green Building Council to present not only an awards reception that will continue to celebrate leading companies, individuals and projects, but for the first time a day-long conference to share best practice, debate the major challenges we face and hear from the people who will be setting the agenda in the months and years to come.

Paul King, the UK-GBC’s chief executive, has declared the conference a chance for action rather than words, throwing down the gauntlet to attendees. “We know there are some very talented people and dynamic companies that are leading the way in our industry,” he said, “but are these exceptions or can we learn from them and replicate what they are doing across the sector?

“I get frustrated when we seem to play an endless game of reacting to government announcements. How can we, as an industry, begin to set the agenda, to take responsibility and realise the scale of the opportunity?”

The conference, Making Sustainable Development Happen 2009, takes place on 24 November at the newly-opened Kings Place in the regenerated King’s Cross area of London – which itself has secured a “very good” BREEAM rating.

We know there are some very talented people and dynamic companies that are leading the way in our industry

Paul King, UK-GBC

Last year’s awards presented the judges with their most difficult challenge yet, as the industry has come on in such leaps and bounds. “It’s much harder to distinguish between those who are pushing the boundaries, because everybody is raising their game,” said awards judge Sarah Ratcliffe, European director at Jones Lang LaSalle and the leader of its sustainability business unit. “Three or four years ago, a lot of this would have been best practice or innovation, but now it’s quite difficult to distinguish between people as they’re all building to such high standards.”

While this gave the judges with a few headaches, it did mean that the winning and shortlisted companies for the 2008 awards could be justly proud of their achievements.

There was an inspiring range of innovation and good practice on show last year, from Wates’ 8,000 working hours spent improving neighbourhoods around the UK, to manufacturer Roger Bullivant’s pioneering modular foundation system, which releases 82% less carbon and wastes 88% less water than traditional trench foundations, to

Axis Design’s ambitious ecoterrace refurbishment scheme, which hopes to boost the energy rating of six pre-1919 dwellings from G to B.

Building has high hopes for this year’s shortlist – enter now to secure your place on the roll of honour.