Green building, a global trend

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It may already be a global trend but green building has the potential to deliver far greater savings for industry than those being achieved today.

Energy efficiency and value have been the drivers for new projects in industry throughout the economic downturn and it is interesting to note that construction trends in the U.S. are being driven by this same question of efficiency.

Talking to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Mike Miller, from leading US building firm Southland Industries, noted: "Energy consumption is always on the mind in construction...systems that recover energy...and occupancy sensors are becoming vital...By recognizing carbon dioxide in the room, a sensor changes the ventilation and, therefore, the energy needed."

It is just one example of the many ways in which green building can help every sector. Without exception, greater energy efficiency equals better value in the form of reduced operating costs as well as a reduced carbon footprint.

Published in 2008, a report commissioned by ConstructionSkills from Experian Business Strategies and SAMI Consulting Limited, titled 2020 Vision - The Future of UK Construction, noted: "there will be increased emphasis - albeit to a varying degree - on improving the energy efficiency of the existing building stock, as well as that of newbuild" and also that there "will be increased emphasis on air-tightness and hence on quality of construction."

The observations noted in the 2020 Vision report, are borne out by more recent research commissioned by Chalcroft ahead of the release of our 2013 white paper, "Turning food green".

This white paper notes a significant opportunity for the UK's £76bn food industry to take a leading role in sustainability, while the energy savings it could make have the potential to greatly reduce the total UK GHG emissions and contribute directly to the security of future energy supplies. In fact by not incorporating more sustainable options in new manufacturing and processing plants, the UK food industry could be throwing away as much as £120m every year in operating costs, while even greater savings are possible given a long term approach to green building investment.

The reduction in energy use by UK industry - not just the food sector - and the adoption of other sustainable energy solutions, such as micro-generation, will also bring wider long term benefits such as the security of UK energy supplies. Engaging with construction companies at the earliest opportunity and taking advantage of the industry's wealth of experience will help to achieve the most sustainable, cost effective outcome.