Building's new 99% campaign seeks to make existing building stock as sustainable as new developments. The magazine's editor explains why the initiative is so crucial.
Is the sustainability agenda for real? And is its going to make a blind bit of difference to the construction industry? For firms constantly bombarded with new edicts and regulations aimed at cutting back on carbon dioxide emissions these are questions that frequently come our way at Building. The simple answer is yes - but just how fast is hard to call.
From where we sit there is certainly no lack of talk about the need to reduce energy, cut site waste and choose sustainable materials. But the embracing of all things green seems to be driven by more than just regulations. Construction generally has well and truly had its conscience pricked - even Tesco is kitting out its stores with green accessories. And if you've got kids - well there's certainly no ignoring the onset of global warming and water shortages. Mine have trained me to turn the tap off when I'm cleaning my teeth and the computer when I'm not using it. They've also instilled in me the discipline of sorting rubbish into the correct recycling bags. Mind you when my seven year old lays down in front of the lawn mower in a sit-down protest about cutting the lawn because it was disturbing ecosystems, my heart goes out to all those contractors who had to contend with Swampy.
So there's a definite desire to change in the industry, but they are hampered by frustrations on two fronts: the clients who cut out green credentials on a building as soon as there is any hint that it might not come in within budget; and the government's obsession with salving its conscience on delivering new green buildings while the existing stock guzzle energy as if it were a limitless supply.
On the first front the industry has to take the lead and make the case for green construction as forcefully as it can - and well done to Davis Langdon who is set to spell out the environmental consequences by handing all of its clients a carbon index of its new developments.
On the second front it's a total no-brainer. Of course we should go on tightening up the new developments, but we can no longer ignore the remainder, which make up the majority of building stock. That's why we've launched a new campaign this week - called the 99% campaign - to highlight just irrational this policy is. So if you agree with us and believe something must be done vent your frustrations constructively and give us your support.