EMC’s Sustainable Building Services Awards highlighted the superb efforts of m&e contractors and consultants in devising innovative solutions that work with the climate rather than against it.

With buildings accounting for nearly 50% of carbon emissions, there can be no doubt that action is vital in the construction arena if the UK is to meet its target of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.

Our awards ably demonstrate that there are many in the m&e world who are already at the head of the pack. NG Bailey picked up the gong for being the greenest m&e contractor of them all, but they were pushed all the way by Balfour Kilpatrick and Dodd Group. Similarly, the judges praised the quality of the excellent projects, large and small, put forward by the m&e sector.

Yet there are many m&e contractors out there who will struggle to believe that there is a sustainability agenda at all in the built environment. The title of a seminar at the recent M&E Event said it all - ‘Why aren’t sustainable buildings happening?’

You might think that the current economic meltdown has caused a sudden but temporary halt to the whole green agenda in construction. Yet the evidence suggests that little was happening even when the market was soaring.

The reasons will be all too familiar: payback periods on renewables are too long; specialists are not involved early enough; all the green measures get stripped out at the last minute as project costs spiral - I’m sure you can name them. Even that old favourite - legislation - is not really working. Anybody noticed any Display Energy Certificates in public buildings? Enforcement is almost zero.

If your client is keen to be green, then you are one of the lucky ones. For those in the mass market, the big question is whether or not to invest in the necessary training - a tough call to make, especially in this climate.