Recession could boost building industry, report claims

It has been a tough time for the UK construction and development industry as the recession has taken hold - but European lawyers may have some good news for the industry.

A report by law firm Taylor Wessing reveals that the industry in the UK could play a key role in Government plans to combat the economic downturn by creating ‘green collar’ jobs.

Behind the Green Facade says the economic downturn could act as a spur towards the development of more sustainable buildings.

The report follows a survey of more than 5,000 professionals working in the development industry on their attitudes to climate change.

It found that 75% of respondents believe renewable energy sources are likely to be a major element of future property development.

More than half of those surveyed also said financial incentives will be the key to unlocking behavioural change in their industry, rather than regulatory sanctions.

Helen Garthwaite, head of Construction and Engineering at Taylor Wessing, said: “Far from putting the brakes on sustainable building, industry leaders could actually be using the economic downturn as an opportunity to boost their green credentials in preparation for proposed legislative developments in the area.”

The survey also found that more than 70% of end users and investors had limited or no understanding of sustainability issues.

However, developers, contractors and advisors who took part in the survey said they had more understanding.

Ms Garthwaite added: “While the upper echelons of the development industry are beginning to take a lead, there is a long way to go before this filters down to all sectors of the built environment.”

She added that an industry-wide definition of “sustainability” needed to be agreed, and called on Government and the development industry to take a lead on communicating sustainability in the built environment.

Kate Martin

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