The Green Construction Board
Tony Mulcahy, of BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), explains the background and aims of the Green Construction Board, a close collaboration between industry and Government to make the most of business opportunities from the transition to a greener economy.
In the late summer of 2011 Mark Prisk, Minister for Business and Enterprise, asked Dan Labbad, Chief Executive of Lend Lease EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) if he would consider joining him as co-chair of the new Green Construction Board. The board was being created to take forward the Low Carbon Construction Action Plan, published in response to Paul Morrell’s excellent Innovation and Growth Team report. Dan accepted.
Mark Prisk had been greatly impressed by the way the Innovation and Growth Team had brought business thinking into the heart of Whitehall. He wanted to retain that capability and take it beyond the point of making recommendations through to the delivery of actions. His focus – on the business opportunities from the transition to a greener economy – was one that Dan Labbad fully supports.
The proposition was simply that Dan would bring senior business people to the table, and Mark would bring senior Government people along. The board is comprised of a broad cross-section of construction, property and infrastructure people, including small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The Government is represented by Defra, BIS, DCLG, DECC, Cabinet Office and HM Treasury – Infrastructure UK. The shared ambition is to create a close and effective collaboration between industry and Government to ensure that business opportunities remain sharply in focus.
What has the Green Construction Board been doing?
Since the board’s first meeting at the end of October seven working groups, populated largely by industry volunteers, have been set up to take forward a broad range of issues. The working groups are keen to work with what is already there and not to duplicate existing work.
The board has published an early draft of a routemap which starts to set out how the construction, property and infrastructure industry will play a full role in ensuring the UK Government meets its 2050 Climate Change Act targets. That work is not complete – it never can be – but it starts to provide a much clearer basis on which people can challenge thinking within their own businesses or within government.
Proposals on knowledge capture and innovation are being worked through – a perpetual challenge in a project-based industry and, perhaps, even more so in green construction. In parallel, a call for evidence has been issued to build as clear a picture as possible of current or planned knowledge and research, including examples of best practice.
The infrastructure sector is being examined to demonstrate how cash and carbon go hand in hand and case studies will be produced.
Work is underway to look at bridging the gap between designed and actual performance of non-domestic buildings. There is a working group dedicated to building our understanding of how the market values green buildings. Another group is looking at the industry’s own processes and making these as green as possible and a further one looking at promotion.
The board has had discussions with senior officials from DECC about the Green Deal. It has had discussions with DCLG Ministers about their department’s approach to property and regulation. It is looking forward to a discussion with Defra on the wider sustainability picture.
Ensuring informed decisions
The Green Construction Board’s role is to influence decisions and ensure they are taken with the benefit of the knowledge and advice of senior business people from the industry. Business should lead the discussion of where the opportunities for growth may lie – but the final decisions on particular policies and issues sit elsewhere. The Board is a collaboration and will not take a public position on particular issues – that would simply reduce its capacity to be a positive influence and a trusted source of advice.
The Green Construction Board is all about making the most of the opportunities for green growth. It believes many businesses are already profiting from green construction opportunities. There were over 1,500 exhibitors at this year’s Ecobuild, the world’s biggest event for sustainable construction and the largest construction event in the UK. Proof positive that very many people share the Board’s belief in those business opportunities and are willing to invest in them.
Contact the Green Construction Board at firstname.lastname@example.org
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