14 Jun 2010
Policy area: Sustainability
The biggest ever survey of the UK development Industry, released today, shows that approximately three-quarters of the industry – which accounts for nearly half of all UK carbon emissions – do not believe the Government's current zero carbon targets for the sector are realistic. Meeting these targets will be essential if the UK is to meet its national carbon reduction targets by 2020. The findings of the survey demonstrate the strength of feeling among respondents that regulation is most likely to drive progress in future, highlighting the need for closer industry-Government collaboration.
Called Hitting the Green Wall...and Beyond, the report is a collaboration between the British Property Federation, international law firm Taylor Wessing, and specialist research and communications consultancy Spada. The full report is available here.
With over 7,000 individuals surveyed, the report is believed to be by far the most comprehensive survey to date of the development industry’s sentiment towards – and preparedness for – sustainability and carbon reduction. Despite the difficult economic conditions, the survey also finds that the importance accorded to sustainability has held steady during the recession, and highlights the increasing prevalence of green agreements. It builds upon the findings of Taylor Wessing’s award-winning 2009 report Behind the Green Façade.
Key findings of Hitting the Green Wall...and Beyond include:
Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation comments:
“With an industry that is sceptical about carbon reduction targets, closer collaboration between Government and the industry is essential if these are to be met. Government will need to work with all sectors to understand fragmented views and identify why certain sectors feel the targets are more achievable than others
“Government faces a huge challenge in striking the right balance between 'carrot' and 'stick' in order to secure its sustainability objectives, whilst the industry must engage as much as possible and attempt to meet and exceed targets. An inconsistent approach to regulation and its implementation, or the setting of targets that are perceived as unachievable, is likely to impact negatively on the delivery of the sustainability agenda by the industry.”
Helen Garthwaite, UK Head of Construction and Engineering at law firm Taylor Wessing adds:
“The burden and complexity of regulation affecting sustainability at EU and national levels will continue to increase. The industry believes that the 'stick' of regulation is necessary to drive the pace of change, alongside fiscal incentives and other measures. Non-binding green agreements are growing in popularity and we expect this trend to continue. The preference for non-binding agreements could shift towards binding agreements as the regulatory agenda evolves.
“Alongside regulation, better measures to define success and value will be essential. The rationalisation of benchmarking tools and agreement over their application is needed. It is possible that some voluntary benchmarks could in effect become mandatory through industry promotion and use.”
Gavin Ingham Brooke, Chief Executive of Spada, concludes:
“The report reveals a deep reservoir of goodwill and a durable commitment to the sustainability agenda, reflected by the fact that over 80% of respondents say that senior management take responsibility for sustainability and the recession has barely affected the industry’s commitment.
“Goodwill is not enough. Energies and resources across this complex industry need to be pointed at defined objectives which are commonly understood, with every stakeholder guided by consistent frameworks, measures and, frankly, language. Hitherto separate disciplines - technical consulting, organizational development, law and communications - need to be brought together to crack the challenge of change.”