Environmental concerns are more vociferous than they ever have been, and construction firms find themselves under increased regulatory pressure to keep emissions down and efficiency high. Over its lifespan, a given building can contribute enormously to the UK’s overall carbon emissions, and even small savings can compound over years and decades.
What constitutes a ‘green’ building is a matter of interpretation. But, generally speaking, a green building is one that’s been designed with its impact on the natural environment in mind. This philosophy might manifest itself in a number of ways. It might mean more efficient use of energy, and the ability to generate that energy on-site (ie. with the help of solar panels or a heat pump). It might mean using materials that are sustainable and ethically-sourced.
We should bear in mind that it isn’t just the building itself which imposes an environmental cost, but all of the materials, tools and techniques used in its construction. Photovoltaic panels, for example, pay for themselves over a long enough timeframe – but there’s also an environmental cost to their manufacture.
Where are the Challenges?
Green buildings often impose a higher upfront cost, as the sustainable materials aren’t always the most affordable ones at the point of use. It’s worth noting, however, that non-green buildings will tend to suffer in the long run, as their value will tend to diminish over time, as they’re not like listed buildings with an inherent aesthetic and cultural value.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to offset risk is through specialised forms of construction insurance. The larger and more complex the project, the more sophisticated your risk management strategy needs to be. This applies especially if you’re incorporating bold and untested materials and techniques into the design. Look for an insurer with a particular background in green construction, and which offers all of its services under a single umbrella. That way, you won’t need to worry about whether you’re covered sufficiently against a particular kind of risk.
There’s also certification to worry about, especially if you need to demonstrate your building’s green credentials to would-be buyers and collaborators. Every aspect of a building’s construction should be stringently documented, to ensure that it meets the green criteria. Becoming a member of the UK Green Building Council will help to establish your green credentials, as they’re an impartial third party that’s respected by the industry.
Another challenge is the lack of specialised expertise in green building standards. This is a problem which might be fixed by the broader industry over time, but in the short-term, make greenness a part of your selection and recruitment process. By seeking out professionals who value greenness, you’ll be better equipped to construct green buildings.
Energy-efficiency is a topic that’s constantly shifting, thanks to the introduction of new practices and technologies. Make sure that you’re apprised of these new developments, and that you’re unafraid to be bold when testing them out in the field.
Article Submitted By Community Writer