Sustainability is the buzzword of the moment but it is a serious consideration for architects, house builders and construction companies in the 21st Century. With population growth and an extra 300,000 new homes needed a year to keep up with demand as well as large-scale infrastructure projects, it has never been more important. This need, coupled with earth’s dwindling resources and mounting concern over carbon emissions, means quantity surveyors play a vital role in ensuring developments are sustainable, reusable and low energy.

A quantity surveyor plays a crucial role in the construction of new buildings and minimising building costs. Some quantity surveyors have experience with large scale construction projects whilst others are more concerned with individual house builds or one-off small-scale projects. However, they all have a role to play in promoting sustainability.

How does a quantity surveyor promote sustainability?

As part of any construction project, a quantity surveyor will draw up detailed lists of materials to be used during building, which is then sent to Building Control for approval and helps to give an idea of costs for the build. It as at this point that they can ensure sustainable materials are used and have input into the development of the project.

Quantity surveyors also have a list of so called ten commandments that they can adhere to which help promote sustainability. These are a set of ideals which help improve sustainability but it does require effort and thought, and for everyone to stick to them.

They include reusing existing buildings wherever possible to reduce costs and build time, designing for minimum waste, avoiding over-specification and using pre-assembly where possible. Minimising energy use in construction and in particular avoiding using energy intensive materials like cement and aluminium is also a key part of their role.

Making use of the natural environment, not polluting, and disposing of waste sensibly, preserving and enhancing biodiversity, conserving water resources, setting targets and respecting people and building community relations are core responsibilities for many QS roles, to ensure the sustainability of new buildings.

How do I become a quantity surveyor?

If you want to train as a quantity surveyor, you’ll need a degree or professional qualification accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). However, you don’t have to have a degree specifically in surveying and can take an accredited postgraduate conversion course. Degree subjects you might choose include construction, surveying, geography, civil engineering, economics, mathematics or structural engineering.

All accredited postgraduate courses will allow you to work as a quantity surveyor though some employers may allow you to work for them without an accredited course and support you whilst you study.

You might also be able to work as a technical surveyor without a degree and then complete a degree alongside your work, studying part-time. Some employers may also offer the chance to study a degree apprenticeship programme. Check out the RICS website for more details on apprenticeships.