What interests you most about sustainability in the built environment?
[Sara] The sheer scope of what is currently being done and the huge potential of what can be achieved. If we go back to the original definition of sustainability which encompasses environmental, social and economic factors, the built environment is exactly the place where all of those things come together. From using green infrastructure as a building service, to children carrying out post occupancy evaluations on their own school buildings, there are so many exciting initiatives that can make our built environment more sustainable.
Sustainability now appears to be a paramount consideration for building projects. Are we making sufficient progress?
[Sara] Progress is being made but I don’t think it’s fast enough! Sustainability isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ or a tick box exercise to gain a badge, it’s fundamental. One of the biggest challenges is building performance – we still put up buildings that don’t perform optimally and we still have a huge existing stock for which there is no coherent plan for retrofit. Silo mentality at all scales (from individual building projects to government policy) gives us buildings that don’t work in terms of environmental performance, in terms of people being happy in those buildings, and in terms of buildings performing economically and being reasonable to run. The division between capital and operational expenditure in built environment projects is a major obstacle, there still isn’t enough consideration of whole life cost taking into account materials, operation, maintenance and future flexibility when investment decision are made.
How does the future look for sustainable development?
[Sara] Putting it simply, we don’t have a future without sustainable development! So we have no choice but to make sure it happens. Different terminology such as ‘wellbeing’ and ‘resilience’ is now becoming popular which is good as people are motivated by different drivers to take action. Ultimately we need to ‘embrace the age of limits’ and understand that we have finite resources, focusing on sustainability at all levels is a responsibility for all of us, regardless of profession or position.
Sara will be delivering the CPD accredited workshop Energy Reduction Opportunities in Building Projects at 1.15pm on the 27th October, in Workshop Room 2 at London Build 2016.