Skanska’s chief executive has said green skills can be a driver for the growth the government craves

The UK construction industry needs to stop waiting for the government to drive the green agenda and show leadership itself, the chief executive of Skanska has said.

Giving the annual JCT Povey lecture to industry heads last night Skanska chief executive Mike Putnam said: “We need to take a leadership stance on this [the green agenda] and not just wait for the government. We can push this ourselves.”

He added: “The government talks about the growth agenda and the need to drive exports, this is an area where we really can. Construction was always seen as an area the UK led in.”

However, Putnam argued the UK was currently behind other nations in terms of green building credentials.

Indeed, he said only 65% of Skanska’s own buildings exceeded compliance with building regulations in terms of sustainability.

Putnam said that in order to build greener buildings firms needed to take into account the lifetime costs of the carbon produced not just in the building’s construction but its use.

Putnam’s comments came as the JCT launches a consultation on putting the life cycle concerns of a building into its contracts.

Dr Andrew Flood, chair of the JCT sustainability working group, said: “Evidence suggests that institutional investors, tenants and others are increasingly interested in the performance of buildings.”

The JCT is seeking views on how this should be better reflected in the legal framework many contractors operate in and to what extent this should encourage sustainable outcomes.

The consultation runs until 5 April 2012.