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Skanska chief: Collaboration key to shedding 'dirty industry' slur

Skanska’s chief executive has warned that the UK construction industry is lagging behind on international green innovation and collaboration.

In his speech to the annual JCT Povey Lecture, Mr Putnam called on the industry to collaborate further and set more demanding targets for progects as it moves towards a ‘greener” building sector.

He said: “The UK construction industry has been a major leader on the world stage, but… a lot of green innovation and a lot of great collaborative work is taking place in international markets, and pushing boundaries - we need to be part of this.

“The UK has provided BREEAM and CEEQUAL certification systems, and our expertise is valued the world over, but we cannot stand still or we will be drawn back into the ‘vanilla zone’.

“Together we can shed for ever any slur of being a ‘dirty industry’ and one that has a high environmental impact.”

Speaking about Skanska, Mr Putnam said clients are increasing their demands around energy efficiency and low-carbon construction.

He said: “Political decisions have a huge impact on our clients and their needs for the future. When we ask them what green products or services they would prefer Skanska to focus on in the next two to four years, they are clear about what they want, more energy-efficient designs and low carbon solutions.

“The focus for us and our clients therefore, lies in cutting energy demand in buildings and reducing our project carbon footprints. However in the years to come, the focus will increasingly be on how to produce sustainable energy locally and to share that locally produced energy with others.”

Mr Putnam added that BIM will be crucial to reducing waste in the industry and emphasised that Skanska is looking for ‘green credentials’ when choosing its supply chain partners.

“We need to take waste out of the construction process if we are going to deliver the 20 per cent savings required by the government.

“Implementation of BIM right through the project supply chain is fundamental to this. Clients need to take this into consideration when selecting the form of contract to be employed, and early contractor involvement is essential in order to reap the benefits of BIM.

“As so much of our revenue flows through our supply chain we need to recognise that ‘to build green’ we need a green supply chain. A supply chain that brings the best people and the best innovation to our projects.”

The Joint Contracts Tribunal has launched a sustainability consultation to gain views from the property and construction industries about building life cycle matters in the context of sustainability and building contracts.

It published a 2008 consultation on sustainability, which subsequently reinforced the inclusion of sustainability clauses in JCT contracts and the publication of new sustainability guidance, Building a sustainable future together in 2009 (which was revised this year).

The new consultation will seek views and opinions from construction and property professionals, the supply chain and other interested parties on life cycle matters, in particular, the importance placed upon the long-term performance of a building in terms of sustainability.

JCT sustainability working group chair Dr Andrew Flood said: “Property companies and other large property procurers have an interest in the long-term performance of their buildings, not merely their construction or refurbishment. In addition, evidence suggests that institutional investors, tenants and others are increasingly interested in the performance of buildings.

“However, at present, the property and building industries are arguably fragmented. Employers often separate development teams from asset management teams, while contractors are appointed separately from facilities managers. This does not help with joined-up thinking in terms of building design, procurement and life cycle matters.”

The consultation is online (www.jctltd.co.uk/life-cycle-consultation.aspx) and will run until 5 April 2012, with the results published in the summer of 2012.

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