In February 2007, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) was launched with the aim of radically transforming the way in which our built environment is planned, designed, constructed and maintained. Also on the agenda was how buildings are operated – the systems used and the improvements that could be made to enhance sustainability.
Building ‘green’ does have distinct advantages, not only for the environment but also for businesses. There are additional costs when building environmentally friendly structures but these are not as high as supposed by some in the development industry. From a real estate point of view, the more sustainable a building the easier it is to sell and lease. Reports indicate that conventional energy inefficient buildings have to be offered at a discount when compared with sustainably built energy efficient structures.
Of principal concern when designing new buildings is how we use water and energy, as well as the type and quality of the building materials, the health and wellbeing of those who occupy both residential and commercial property and the overall impact the building sector has on greenhouse gas emissions. Green buildings save money for businesses and homeowners through a reduction in water and energy use that eventually pays back the premium of construction and design costs. Maintenance and long-term operating costs are also reduced.
Therefore, from a business viewpoint there is now a compelling case for building green; it is no longer just about reducing global warming.
Ecological planning and design
Improving energy efficiency in our homes and places of work is of central concern to architects and planners and sustainable architecture aims to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed to make best use of capturing or generating their own energy. You may have seen buildings where solar panels are used for heat gain and architects are conscious that how rooms are arranged affects the efficiency of cooling, heating and ventilation systems.
Although some contractors have been reluctant to pay a bit extra for more sustainable materials in the past, energy conservation experts argue that heating and ventilation costs are significantly reduced, meaning that any additional spend by you as a homeowner can be recovered in a matter of just a few years. Builders who use customised recycled steel or wood, specialised roofing materials, insulating panels made from foam and windows of low-emissivity glass are among those at the cutting edge of energy efficient construction.
Of course, the whole business of construction is fraught with difficulties when it comes to aiming for an eco friendly process. This is because much of the machinery and equipment needed is noisy, dirty and expensive to fuel. Then there are particular construction projects that require extensive site drainage. You’ll be glad to hear, however, that great strides have been made in this respect. When UK construction companies need to arrange pump hire to drain a site, they have the option to use Sykes Pumps, which has an unrivalled selection of equipment available including the environmentally friendly Silenced Range – ideal on sensitive sites where construction noise is a concern.
Part of the worldwide picture
On the global stage, the UK plan for the reduction of carbon emissions is one of the most aggressive there is – a very positive act – and the UK construction industry is working hard to promote and to accelerate the transition to a green economy. Experts are arguing for a master plan to guide future building developments and coherent strategies to implement it. Transparency is considered the key, including energy labelling for buildings, and there is a need for skills shortages among construction workers to be addressed. Ongoing research and development into sustainable construction techniques is recommended as vital for future success.