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Introduction to Sustainable Construction

Published 13th February 2006 by Constructing Excellence

Introduction to Sustainable Construction – or How to meet environmental and social reponsibilities and at the same time improve profitability.

Sustainable construction is generally used to describe the application of sustainable development to the construction industry. The industry is defined as all who produce, develop, plan, design, build, alter, or maintain the built environment, and includes building materials manufacturers and suppliers as well as clients and end use occupiers. Clients and end use occupiers also have key roles to play in delivering sustainable construction.

What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development is all about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come, through:

  • social progress which recognises the needs of everyone
  • maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment, whilst
  • protecting, and if possible enhancing, the environment, and
  • using natural resources prudently

Sustainable development embraces the three broad themes of environmental, social and economic accountability, often known as the ‘triple bottom line’.

Sustainable development ISN’T outstanding environmental performance at the cost of a company which goes out of business, nor is it outstanding financial performance at the cost of adverse effects on the local environment and communities. It also does not demand the ‘perfect’ solution. Sustainable development is essentially a goal or vision that forward looking organisations are working towards. A sustainable approach is a balanced approach.

How can the industry help?

The construction industry is central to the delivery of many of the Government’s policies for sustainable development:

  • Regeneration of housing, particularly to revitalize town centres (social/economic)
  • Planning communities to reduce car use (social/environmental)
  • Using energy and water more efficiently (economic/environmental)
  • Minimising mineral extraction (economic/environmental)
  • Protection of the countryside (environmental)
  • Provision of training (social)

Through its activities, whether it is the provision of buildings, infrastructure development or contaminated land reclamation, the construction industry has a major role to play in the delivery of sustainable development.

The challenge for the industry is to play an integral part in providing a better quality of life through its activities, whilst minimising impacts on the environment and local communities.

Filed in: Sustainability External Relations