Construction's role is vital to our nation's future, says Stephen Timms
Of all the challenges facing our society, none is more pressing than climate change and environmental degradation. The facts speak for themselves: the world is getting warmer, the planet is under pressure and as a result our prosperity and security are threatened.
All of us - individuals, communities, government and business - have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and limit our environmental impact. By working together to achieve these aims, the enormous challenges facing our society can be overcome.
The construction industry in particular has a vital role to play. The built environment accounts for nearly half of UK greenhouse gas emissions.
Buildings are also responsible for around 40 per cent of UK carbon emissions, half of our water consumption, about one third of landfill waste and 13 per cent of all raw materials used in the UK economy.
It is therefore of utmost importance that the construction sector considers how it can adapt its practices and use sustainable products to minimise its environmental impact. Already much has been achieved, but there is more to do.
The Government has worked with the industry to produce a draft Sustainable Construction Strategy, which is currently open to public consultation. The strategy sets out a framework for improving the practices, skills and efficiencies of the sector, to ensure the UK construction is a world-leader in sustainability.
The draft strategy sets out a number of targets for the industry, including:
Reduced carbon footprint for construction and better use of resources;
Reduced daily water consumption in new buildings;
Zero net waste at construction site level;
Effective use of Government procurement power to transform the market for innovative and sustainable solutions;
Voluntary agreements and initiatives by the industry and its clients to reduce carbon emissions and resources used in the built environment;
Greater uptake of training programmes, improving skills and increasing retention rates of skilled workers within a safer industry.
The consultation process is open until November 30. Do read the draft strategy and have your say. The consultation document is available at www.berr.gov.uk/consultations/page40642.html.
In the meantime, I congratulate Construction News for hosting the Green Construction Summit, an important initiative which will bring industry members together to discuss the way forward. I am confident it will spawn many new ideas for the construction sector, and I look forward to continuing to work with everyone in the industry towards sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
Stephen Timms is minister for business and enterprise