UK outlines sustainable construction strategy

UK outlines sustainable construction strategy

A UK Government and industry initiative has published its aims to promote leadership and change to achieve sustainable goals among the public and the construction industry.

The UK Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has introduced a joint initiative with industry that will formulate a strategy for future sustainable construction. Part of the Government's 2007 Sustainable Procurement Action Plan, the initiative's report Strategy for Sustainable Construction was published on 11 June 2008, and outlines the goals of the partnership.

In the UK, the construction industry represents a significant element of the overall economy, contributing an annual output of over £100 billion. This represents 8% of gross domestic product (GDP), with the sector employing approximately three million workers. Within this industry, the public sector is a major client, with public procurement accounting for more than a third of all construction projects.

Through its extensive work in both the public and private sectors, the construction industry not only represents a vital element in ensuring the health of the national economy, but is also an influential factor in the shaping of the country’s sustainability and environment. In order to achieve its environmental targets, the UK Government had initially to lead the construction industry to the conclusion that a change was needed, and secondly implement a strategic reform of the manner in which this industry operated, to improve both environmental standards and national sustainability.

Key targets agreed

From the outset, key targets were agreed that would radically change the sustainability of the construction industry by:

  • Increasing profitability through more efficient use of resources;
  • Encouraging firms to secure the opportunities offered by sustainable products or ways of working; and
  • Enhancing company image and profile in the market place by addressing issues relating to corporate and social responsibility.

Development of the strategy evolved over a number of stages, under the coordination of the BERR. In order to facilitate an active dialogue with the industry, the initiative was established in conjunction with the national Strategic Forum for Construction. As the construction industry impacts upon a variety of governmental areas, the initiative’s strategic report had input from a number of departments, including the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Throughout the drafting process, the Strategic Forum for Construction was regularly consulted, and their input to the strategy was also considered. The draft strategy was then released for public consultation in July 2007 and closed on 30 November 2007. The analysis of the responses to the consultation was published on 28 February 2008. And the final strategy was released on 11 June 2008.

Increasing clarity on existing and future policies

At its core, this strategy aims to provide clarity around the existing policy framework, while also signaling the future direction of Government policy. It aims to achieve its sustainable construction targets by: providing clarity to business on the Government’s position by bringing together diverse regulations and initiatives relating to sustainability; setting and committing to higher standards to help achieve sustainability in specific areas; and making specific commitments by industry and Government to take the sustainable construction agenda forward.

The strategy sets out a number of target areas, which it labels ‘means’, and a number of areas where it wishes to see improvement, labeled ‘ends’. The strategy will target the areas of: procurement; design; innovation; investment in people; and better sectoral regulation. This will go hand-in-hand with a concerted effort to stimulate development in the areas of: climate change mitigation; climate change adaptation; water use; biodiversity; waste management; and the environmentally sound use of materials.

More information





Strategy for Sustainable Construction:


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Strategic forum for construction:


European Forum on Eco-Innovation: Markets for Sustainable Construction:



Sustainable construction Lead Market Initiative

Sustainable construction is a key element of the Lead Market Initiative (LMI) adopted by the EU on 21 December 2007. The sustainable construction lead market will primarily focus on the interaction and combined effects of two market drivers on innovation in residential and non-residential buildings as well as in infrastructure constructions: Rational use of natural resources – energy, water and materials; and User convenience and welfare – accessibility, safety/security, indoor air quality, etc. At the same time, the European Commission is launching a call for proposals to support the establishment and activities of public procurement networks to stimulate innovation in the key areas identified under the LMI.

More information: