You don't have to aim to save the planet, but to win business nowadays you do need to show off your sustainability credentials

Just a few years ago sustainability was something on the periphery for tree huggers, today it’s centre stage and a key aspect of construction practice with the potential to generate billions of pounds of work which will impact on the success of every company in the industry – whether you believe in global warming or not.

Last month’s Ecobuild was a good example of the rise of sustainability. Every year it has got bigger and bigger, reflecting the market’s interest in the subject and the increasing number of companies offering solutions. In contrast, Interbuild has shrunk. Perhaps the rebranding as BEST, with a focus on sustainability, will see a reversal of the exhibition’s fortunes.

In the same way that a legendary exhibition such as Interbuild has had to re-brand because of commercial pressures, so all organisations must be aware of the impact their sustainable credentials will have on brand value.

At the core of every brand is the personality of the organisation. This is how your business is perceived and may cover a range of elements; professionalism, reliability, value and technical expertise are examples of elements many organisations strive for. Ideally, everything our customers see or hear from us reinforces these perceptions.

Your organisation’s name and logo then act as shorthand for all of these characteristics, allowing customers to instantly recall what your organisation means to them. Have you kept up to date and added sustainability to the list of characteristics you want your customers to associate you with? If not, as the demand for sustainable products and services increases you may find your company branded as an old fashioned and out of date organisation.

Hearsay has it that they want wooden cladding to their buildings, even if there are more sustainable alternatives, so that customers can see their commitment.

The large supermarkets are a good example of the commitment to add sustainability to the brand. Having recognised that it is a desirable characteristic they are vying with each other to be the most sustainable organisation.

This is reflected in their building designs, construction site practices and of course their operations. Hearsay has it that they want wooden cladding to their buildings, even if there are more sustainable alternatives, so that customers can see their commitment. A cynic might say this is not about saving the planet, but winning business - and why not?

In the same way, organisations in the construction sector should be focusing not only on how they can meet the sustainable agenda, but how they demonstrate this. Incorporating these characteristics into the mix which is their brand. In this way it is possible to build your brand equity, demonstrating to your clients that you understand how to meet sustainable requirements and more importantly, how to help them meet their own sustainable targets and aspirations.

This is not about saving the planet but developing and then using a business strength which is increasingly in demand. For now, demonstrating sustainable credentials is a matter of gaining competitive advantage. But very soon it will become a ‘must have’ and any organisation which does not present these credentials will be seriously disadvantaged.