Skanska and Willmott Dixon in talks over inserting clauses in contracts to guarantee energy performance of buildings

Skanska and Willmott Dixon are gearing up to be the first main contractors to guarantee the energy performance of their new buildings in their contracts with clients.

Both firms are discussing inserting clauses into their contracts on some projects, which would tie them to ensuring a building meets its predicted energy usage.

Rob Lambe, managing director at Willmott Dixon’s Re-Thinking division, said: “We do support increased certainty and more contractual requirements. Clients should be able to get what they commission.

“We have been talking to a number of clients, building investors and institutions about how to develop something related to the way that energy performance contracting works over in the US.”

Mike Putnam, chief executive of Skanska, said his firm was still in discussions with clients about piloting the approach.

“It’s trying to put some teeth in the whole process [of energy performance],” he added.

David Strong, director of sustainability specialist David Strong Consulting, said such agreements, which are already used by energy reduction retro-fit contractors, can be complex because of variations in external conditions or building usage and are therefore difficult to enforce.

“These guarantees sound great in theory and could be very useful in closing the performance gap frequently seen between a building’s design and its actual energy usage,” he said. “But they can prove very difficult in practice.”