UK lagging on commercial green building

17th February 2016

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Commercial reen' building is surging worldwide, but the UK ranks almost bottom in this sector, according to data published today.

The findings are from a survey of more than 1,000 building professionals, including architects, contractors, owners and engineers, in 69 countries. They were asked about their expectations for building projects that will gain certification under schemes such as BREEAM, LEED and Green Star.

Worldwide, construction of offices, hotels and retail outlets is booming, with nearly half (46%) of all respondents expecting to build commercial buildings with high environmental standards in the next three years.

Green commercial construction is the top sector in eight of the 13 countries included in the study, which suggests its widespread popularity and use, the report authors said.

The building trade was particularly optimistic in Mexico and India, where more than 60% of respondents said they expect to carry out green commercial projects in the next three years. This compares with a global average of 46%.

However, in the UK, only 33% of respondents expected to be involved in new green commercial construction. Australia was the only country that was more pessimistic, with only 27% having such expectations.

The UK building sector was more positive on prospects for green public sector building such as schools and hospitals, with 37% forseeing work in the next three years, compared to a global average of 38%. On residential developments, 40% of UK respondents expected to build new green low-rise buildings, and 20% expect to build green buildings of more than four floors.

Demand for green building in the UK came mainly from client demands (69%), environmental regulations (64%) and market demands (47%).

The top challenges reported by UK survey respondents were a perception of higher up-front costs (52%), and that green projects are for high-end projects only (40%), and a lack of political support and incentives (25%).

Inability to prove the business case due to split incentives between capital and operating costs was a particular problem in the UK, with 43% of respondents complaining that this is the case compared with a global average of 25%.

Overall, the survey highlights that growth in green building will largely be driven by countries that are still developing markets for more environmentally friendly buildings, with respondents from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, China and India expecting dramatic growth in the percentage of their projects that they expect to certify as green.

Building owners report seeing a median increase of 7% in the value of the green buildings (both new build and retrofit) compared with conventional buildings. The most widely reported benefit of green buildings globally is lower operating costs, but around 30% also cited high sales value.

The study was carried out by Dodge Data and Analytics and United Technologies Corporation, with research support from the World Green Building Council (GBC).

Terri Wills, chief executive of the World GBC, said: ‘Green building is playing a critical role in the development of many emerging economies, particularly as their populations grow and create a pressing need for a built environment that is both sustainable and ensures a high quality of life.’


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