THE environmental policies of contractors and housebuilders are coming under City scrutiny, claimed Laing chairman Sir Martin Laing this week.
He said construction companies had to raise their game in this area or run the risk of being neglected by institutional investors.

"Investors and the stock market are taking sustainability into account," said Laing, who is chairman of the DTI-backed sustainable construction task group. "We've got to stop regarding sustainability as an irksome burden forced upon us. It is of key strategic importance to our businesses."

He made his comments at the launch of a task group report setting out the business case for sustainability in the property sector.

The report notes that pressure on investors has been growing because of the 1999 Pensions Act, which requires occupational pension funds to explain the extent to which they take account of social and environmental issues when they make investment decisions.

Laing drew attention to the small number of construction and property players on the FTSE4Good Index and Dow Jones Global Sustainability Index, which track companies with high standards of environmental performance, human rights and stakeholder engagement.

Housebuilder Berkeley Group is one of the few to be included in the Dow Jones Index, and is working towards a listing on FTSE4Good.

"We are already being asked about the sustainability of our practices," said operations director Mike Freshney.