Most people's concern about carbon emissions or a carbon footprint centres around gas-guzzling cars or flights. But in reality much of the problem is closer to home, or indeed in the home. Lighting and heating buildings generates 50% of Britain's carbon dioxide emissions while the production of building materials accounts for a further 10%.

And it is not just carbon emissions that are the problem. The construction industry generates one third of all the waste in Britain while 20% of new building materials on the average building site are simply thrown away at the end of the job. That is 13 million tonnes of new material thrown away each year - the equivalent of 88 Giza pyramids in Egypt.

And with landfill set to fill up in Britain in just seven years, time and space is running out. The construction sector, which accounts for close to 10% of the British economy, has become the latest industry to embark on a dash for an environmentally sustainable future.

A group of 36 leading companies, including British Land, Hanson, Arup, MacAlpine and Barratt Homes - yesterday launched the UK Green Building Council which aims to dramatically improve the sustainability of the so-called "built environment" over the next 10 years.