Joint Contracts Tribunal set to publish terms and guidance on issues such as waste reduction and energy consumption this autumn

Construction firms will have to improve their environmental credentials under new sustainability provisions to be incorporated into JCT contracts.

The move, which is the result of an industry-wide consultation by the Joint Contracts Tribunal, will affect about 70% of all contracts being used on construction projects.

The provisions and guidance notes, which are yet to be finalised, are understood to include stipulations on reducing waste and energy consumption.

Peter Hibberd, general secretary of the JCT, said: “Once again, the JCT is giving a lead to the construction industry, which is in a unique position as the largest sector in the economy to make a real difference to Britain’s landscape. Almost half of all CO2 emissions come from buildings.

"We owe it to future generations to ensure that the buildings we put up today protect the environment as far as possible – and at the same time are great places in which to live, work and have fun.”

Peter Hibberd, JCT general secretary

Hibberd said the move was an attempt to raise awareness of environmental issues among professionals and to encourage them to reduce waste on projects, although it was unlikely the provisions would set actual limits on energy consumption.

Rupert Choat, a partner at law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, said: “This can be seen as an attempt to tie down the contractor to using green methods that don’t necessarily mean the least expensive way of working. It’s good to see the JCT setting a good example on sustainability in this way.

“The difficulty will be defining what we actually mean by sustainability in the contracts terms and, more importantly perhaps, the specification that sets out how the building work is carried out.

“Certainly eyes will be turning on other contracting bodies such as the NEC and ICE to see if they follow JCT’s lead.”

A JCT working group is now preparing the sustainability provisions and will present them to the council for approval this month.

Once endorsed by the council they will be published towards the end of the year, with incorporation expected in the spring of 2009.

Representatives on the JCT council include the British Property Federation, Construction Confederation, Local Government Association, National Specialist Contractors Council, Royal Institute of British Architects, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Scottish Building Contract Committee.