Environmental 197 views Aug 29, 2017
Climate change and the construction industry – show us the money

In 2013 the Government set out its strategy for the construction industry. Over 70 pages long it looked at all aspects of building and outlined a number of key aspirations. In broad terms the strategy set out to lower costs by 33%; reduce construction time by 50%; lower carbon emissions by 50% and increase exports by the same amount.

This was of course all pre Brexit and while some may argue that all bets are now off, there are still certain factors within that strategy which will never change – most notably Climate Change – and how we in the construction industry will respond.

One thing is for sure – we are still a long way off in terms of reducing carbon emissions, but, if you can for the moment put aside any pre-conceived ideas you might have about climate change – it does tend to provoke strong views on both sides – we do have to consider the long lifespan of our buildings.

Some 87% of existing buildings will still be standing in 2050 so if there are going to be major changes in the weather as predicted by some experts then we need to be planning now.

These experts claim that we are likely to experience hotter drier summers, warmer wetter winters, a rise in sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events which means our buildings need to adapt. 

OK, so far nothing new and if you are a regular reader of the trade press there are numerous examples of manufacturers, architects and other construction professionals striving to produce greener buildings and a better environment.

Trouble is it can be expensive to go green and for an industry that is cost averse there are just as many other examples where green products have been rejected in favour of something less environment friendly – even on Government and local authority owned buildings.

We have seen tariffs on solar panels significantly reduced decimating this once thriving market; households are paying up to £200 a year more on their energy bills. In America they estimate that the price of going green will cost US tax payers some $1 trillion dollars every year for the next 45 years, which probably explains why Donald Trump is complaining..

Dealing with climate change is a challenge to the construction industry and one that must not be shirked but while cost remains a major factor then progress will continue to be slow.

So while the construction industry should be proud of what it has achieved so far then it is probably down to Government to set the agenda as it once did with solar panels.

Money is the best motivator to going green with possible subsidies on more environment friendly building materials and lower costs for those that really are trying to offset climate change. However – for the moment – this is a debate that will run and run.

By Talk Builder. Follow me on Twitter @TalkBuilder