2008 will no doubt be remembered as the date that 15 years of almost unbroken economic growth crashed to a halt.

Credit availability and unsustainable levels of borrowing have decimated the housing market, and the downturn is rapidly spreading to other areas of construction. This trend is expected to worsen in the commercial sector in 2009 and 2010, with a recovery not expected until 2011.

Yet, economic gloom aside, this year has seen some positive developments, such as the launch of energy performance certificates and display energy certificates. DECs in particular represent a significant step in drawing attention to the actual amount of energy used by a building. It’s hoped the initiative could kick-start the replacement of some of the most inefficient building stock. The scheme relates only to public buildings at the moment, but as its net widens it could stimulate demand for energy-efficient premises across the built environment.

Another big move was the creation of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, where the parallel aims of affordable energy, security of supplies and environmental sustainability will be considered together. We might even see the government indulge in some joined-up thinking, and perhaps we will see better and more balanced policy initiatives being adopted next year.

It has also been a notable year from the magazine’s perspective. In September we celebrated 30 years of BSj with a commemorative issue looking back at how the industry has changed and forward to how the engineer’s role will change in the future. Being named monthly business magazine of the year at the Periodical Publishers Association awards was a great endorsement of the professionalism of the team that puts each issue of BSj together. At the risk of sounding boastful, the win reinforced what those involved with BSj already knew: not only is this best monthly magazine in the construction sector, but the best monthly business magazine in the UK.

And from that team, the very best wishes of the season to you all.