Anglo-Swedish sustainable buildings and construction partnership formed

A UK-Swedish partnership to promote more sustainable building and construction was launched this week designed to highlight the use of environment-friendly technology and practices.

The Sustainable Construction Initiative aims to bring together current examples of joint UK-Sweden work on building and refurbishment.

Constructing and using buildings accounts for roughly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. The construction industry also creates more than three times the amount of waste produced by all households combined.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Environment Minister Elliot Morley said: “I hope that this initiative between the UK and Sweden can spread to more countries and raise the whole European Union’s game on sustainable construction. The new collaboration aims to stimulate more take up of new technology, reduce environmental impacts and generate business.”

One initiative commonly practiced in Sweden, and which the UK is keen to follow, is the use of pre-fabricated materials. Sweden has been using pre-fabricated materials since the 1950’s in its buildings, and is very advanced in their manufacture compared to the UK.

In addition, Ministers visited Augustenborg to see a major sustainable housing renewal programme where flooding problems have been solved through the creation of an open stormwater system which fills the area with ponds, wildlife and beauty.

“Making buildings more environmentally sustainable helps us to meet our environmental challenges and cuts costs. I look forward to continued cooperation and collaboration between the people of Sweden and the UK in building a better environment for a better future,” Mr Morley said.

Despite these fine words, the UK government has been routinely criticised for failing to implement mandatory building energy controls (see related story) as part of the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive.

Dr David Strong, director of BRE Environment, has warned that, as a result of government complacency, the UK was likely to miss its own targets for emissions reductions and the deadline for implementing the new buildings directive.

The Anglo-Swedish partnership has set up a website – UK-Sweden – to encourage policy makers, regulators, investors, architects and builders to share skills, knowledge and best practice.

Also this week, a team from the DTI and De Montfort University is visiting Canada to learn more about reducing carbon emissions from cities.

Called “Investigating large-scale carbon reduction in the built environment”, the DTI funded mission will visit Toronto and Ottawa to try to accelerate the uptake of low carbon technologies and in so doing boost business for companies providing relevant products and services, as well as encouraging lower energy use in buildings.

By David Hopkins

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