EIC: Govt should lead on sustainability

Government should act now to improve its leadership on sustainable buildings and procurement, a leading environmental trade association has said.

The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) submitted evidence to a Government enquiry criticising its record on sustainability standards in its buildings.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee launched the enquiry into the sustainability of Government operations last month and a hearing is set to take place on April 29.

The EIC said the one key area where Government is failing in its efforts to improve sustainability is in public sector building projects.

EIC director Merlin Hyman said: “In 2006-07, only 46 of 351 Government new build or refurbished projects were assessed against BREEAM (the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).

“This is against a requirement for all public sector projects to carry out a BREEAM or equivalent assessment.

“Of the projects that did carry out an assessment, only 28 met the Common Minimum Standards.

“Overall, for all 2006-07 projects only 8% achieved the required standards.”

In the evidence submitted to the Environmental Audit Committee, Mr Hyman said EIC members that had worked on public sector construction projects found they “commonly procure the cheapest, most polluting option, even where whole-life costs are higher”.

Mr Hyman added that the public sector must lead by example and had a vital role to play in stimulating a market for environmental goods and services.

A recent report from the Committee on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance found that environmental performance is still only a business-critical matter for a relatively limited number of companies.

A report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee revealed in January that government departments and agencies were failing to meet standards for sustainable building.

Kate Martin

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