Sustainable construction: realising the opportunities for built environment professionals

John Atkins, John Connaughton - University of Reading, Tim Dixon, Yener Coskun - University of Sheffield&Capital Markets Board of Turkey&Middle East Technical University

This report by leading built environment professionals presents the views on key sustainability issues that are likely to affect the construction sector in the near future. The report highlights the particular influences of various market and regulatory developments, ranging from new build to retrofitting, through embodied carbon, Building Information Modelling [BIM] and valuation, which in common with all innovations, present both challenges and great opportunities for the whole industry and particularly the industry’s professionals. Understanding these relationships fully will become more important as the EU moves towards achieving its stated energy and carbon reduction targets.

What is common to all these issues is the requirement to manage information more effectively during a building’s life-cycle. Built environment professionals routinely gather and discard information – information that is in fact immensely valuable for owners to make the right decisions when considering the improvement of the sustainability aspect of their buildings. The procurement and delivery of reliable, accurate, understandable and translatable data can be put to many uses. These include regulatory compliance, planning, cost management, operation, maintenance as well as essential investment and financial decision-making. However, a significant part of what is currently lacking is the system of organizing and controlling this building information.

Complying with environmental and sustainability requirements is a complex and far reaching task. This paper first considers the regulatory landscape in Europe to clarify both new and existing requirements for buildings in terms of: • Minimum energy performance levels, • How these can be defined, measured and actually achieved.

However, as the EU is moving towards zero energy buildings, whole-life carbon accounting and building energy management becomes increasingly more significant which in turn raises concerns about the need for robust, common metrics, clearly assigned responsibilities and necessary skills to deliver this task. The use of Building Information Management [BIM] tools will help the processing, assessment, translation and sharing of the collected data, and most importantly, enable more efficient working practices and stakeholder collaboration.

Finally, more accessible sustainability related performance information is essential to improve the links with the investment, lending and insurance communities, together with its wider social and economic benefits. The role of valuation professionals and property valuation are key components to provide feedback on the environmental and social aspects of building performance in respect of sustainability.

Built environment professionals need to be aware of new technical, policy and legal developments as they occur, but more importantly they need to learn about the concepts underpinning sustainability in both the legislative and practical senses. RICS has already undertaken and is continuing to undertake considerable work in assisting members to further develop their knowledge and implement the necessary skills to capitalise on the potential of these new opportunities.

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