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Sustainable building study: principle beats cost

Sustainable construction methods should be used, despite the cost, believe 80% of surveyed professionals

Solar panels in the city
Solar panels in the city

Over 80% of building professionals worldwide believe that sustainable construction methods should be used on projects despite the increase to costs, the latest research has revealed.

The survey of more than 250 executives from contractors, surveyors, civil engineers and architects was carried out by the Construction Intelligence Center on behalf of the online market data provider Timetric.

A total of 62% of respondents said sustainable methods increase the cost of construction projects, and 42% said that, at current price levels, it is not financially viable to incorporate sustainable methods in schemes.

However, 85% of respondents said sustainable construction methods should still be adopted despite the negative economic impact.

The survey found a high level of awareness of sustainable construction among architects and design consultants, but a relatively low level among private sector developers.

Just under three quarters of professionals said sustainability is now an issue at the forefront of the industry, however the majority (64%) identified a lack of client and government support as key obstacles to growth.

The survey found a greater emphasis on recycling materials, cutting waste than previously.
The survey found a greater emphasis on recycling materials, cutting waste than previously.

This sentiment was expressed most strongly in Asia, where 80% of respondents said that a lack of client demand was a key factor. In Europe the figure was 52% and in North America it was 47%.

Nevertheless, client demand for sustainable construction solutions is projected to increase. A quarter of contractors said they expect 50-75% of projects to incorporate sustainable methods over the next five years. A further 25% said it would reach 75%-100%.

The survey found evidence of a greater emphasis on recycling materials, cutting waste and greenhouse gas emissions and membership of green certification schemes.

The top three sustainable services expected to see rising demand were renewable energy solutions (61%), energy efficient buildings (59%) and reducing material waste on projects (50%).

Most businesses (71%) said they did not currently benefit from financial incentives that encourage sustainability.

Over 80% of respondents said more could be done to encourage sustainable construction in their market. A common theme was the need to raise awareness of sustainable construction, and to compare it with the environmental impact of traditional construction methods.

Many respondents highlighted the need for improved government-led regulations to help alter existing practices and accelerate change.