Climate change is the biggest issue facing mankind today. And as 44% of carbon dioxide in the UK stems from the built environment, reducing it is without a doubt the biggest challenge facing the construction industry.

These awards recognise those architects, contractors, consultants, engineers and clients who are not only pioneering the construction of low carbon buildings but who are examining and responding to the challenge of reducing the carbon footprints of their own businesses and their own construction sites.

Firms like Berkeley Homes, the winner of Sustainable Housebuilder of the Year, for example, has not only completed its first carbon neutral development but has decided to make sure its headquarters follows suit in 2007. Wates, the winner of the Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy award is aiming to eliminate the need to send any waste to landfill sites by 2010, and one of its divisions is cutting its landfill contribution by 70% already. Meanwhile, the efforts of brewer Adnams to build Britain’s greenest warehouse from which to distribute its beers earned it the Sustainable Client of the Year accolade from our judges.

Clearly, this is just the start of the journey in the transformation of our industry. Economist Sir Nicholas Stern concluded in his report, published at the end of October, that climate change as the “greatest and widest ranging market failure ever seen” but optimistically added that “that there is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change if we act now and act internationally. We can grow and be green”.

The winners of Building’s 2006 sustainability awards should be congratulated for their enlightened approach, for mapping out routes others will need to follow, and for demonstrating that with the will to put the challenge of climate change at the very heart of what we do as an industry we can make a difference.

The Judges were …

John Doggart chairman, ECSC
Andy Ford director of research and development, Fulcrum Consulting
Annie Hall head of sustainability, CITB–ConstructionSkills
Nick Hayes director for sustainable construction, BRE
Martin Hunt principal sustainability adviser, Forum for the Future
George Martin head of sustainability, Willmott Dixon
Isabel McAllister associate director, Cyril Sweett
Lynne Sullivan sustainability director, Broadway Malyan
Mike Watson head of construction, Wrap
Ken Yeang director of sustainability, Llewelyn Davies Yeang