what are the real green shoots in the construction industry?

Housing in the UK accounts for more than a quarter (27%) of CO2 emissions and many developers have taken to reducing their projects' carbon footprints by using innovative methods of construction and energy efficient materials. 

The advancement of green technology combined with an architect's eye for detail means some have already constructed impressive buildings that have little or no environmental impact.

building a sustainable world.

One vision of the future is the the 2017 sustainable project award winner, the GlaxoSmithKline Centre of Chemistry in Nottingham, which was designed by Morgan Sindall and will achieve a carbon neutral status in 25 years.

Every part of the building is designed to preserve green energy from the airplane-like wings on the rooftop to enhance air ventilation and cooling in the summer to its grassy slopes that act as a means of heating in the winter. The entire building will also be powered with solar power and biomass energy.

The British-based company is also responsible for employing around 5,700 manufacturing workers, which sustains the industry, and in last year sponsored 116 undergraduates and supported 639 people through professional qualifications.

These commitments mean their environmental building talent is being shared with thousands of workers who can potentially continue their green ethos.

low-carbon care.

Following closely behind in their (carbon-less) footsteps is the new coalition of builders and developers who have taken on a new sustainable feat in Barnet, North London.

They will be creating ‘Noah’s Ark’, a new children’s hospice and community project that is to house over 1,200 critically ill children and their families .

The butterfly shaped building is designed to be both cost effective and sustainable whilst providing the best care for the families. Like the GlaxoSmithKline building, the centre will be embedded into a grassy slope to cut costs on heating and the large glass panelling is intended to allow maximum levels of natural lighting.

Natural ventilation and timbre cladding, enhanced U-values, air source heat pumps and photovoltaics all contribute towards the overall sustainability of the building.  

Construction will start this year and the project has the involvement of names like 8Build, Sellar Property Group, Squire and Partners, Ramboll, JLL UK, Pears Property, Hok and Erith Demolition and Gensler.

The involvement of so many manufacturers spells good things for an industry where more big names are willing to get involved. 

the future of environmentalism in construction.

The 2008 Climate Change Act adds an element of urgency to the production of eco-housing, especially as we are nowhere near close to reducing our carbon emissions by 80% of what they were in the 1990s by 2050 (the goal of the act).

Globally, buildings and infrastructure account for 40% of emissions and energy use, and the race is on to drastically reduce this percentage before we end up doing irreparable damage to the world around us.

UK-GBC is a forward-thinking environmental initiative that is aiming to combat climate issues through influence of government and regulation of big business. Their goal is to change the mind-set surrounding climate change that allows for doubt and denial.

According to their on-going report, a built environment should adapt to climate change, eliminate waste and maximise resources, embrace and restore nature, promote biodiversity and optimise the health of citizens.

Likewise, the Green Building Store, who have been sustainable building pioneers since 1995, have been developing low energy buildings that focus on the materials, use high levels of continuous insulation, airtightness and advanced ventilation techniques that can cut a buildings heating needs by 90% of the UK’s national average. 

Very few of the 23 million homes in the UK are currently carbon neutral, and about a third of the UK’s waste comes from discarded building materials.

Construction companies that are already beginning to incorporate eco-building into their repertoire are ahead of the curve when you consider that in order to meet the governmental climate goals, these will eventually have to be replaced with greener models.

Now is definitely the time to seize the opportunity and begin to create a construction workforce that is trained and knowledgeable about building eco-homes.  

so, what next?

New initiatives like these are vital in reshaping how we think traditional forms of housing should be constructed. By challenging preconceptions about how we treat energy within the home we are taking an important step forward towards an environment that is healthier for those who live in it.

The switch to greener building methods and materials is a big positive as potentially thousands of jobs may be created because of it. For instance, it is estimated that around nine million homes do not have insulation in the walls, and we are going to need skilled workers to correct this.

Now is the time to think and act fast in order to ensure the stability of the world around us for future generations. 

view construction roles

< return to previous page