How Construction is Adopting a Broader Vision of ‘Places that Work’

A new report from the UK Green Building Council highlights how construction can influence many areas of public policy. The report, Building Places that Work for Everyone was formally launched at a conference in the House of Commons on February 28, addressed by George Freeman MP, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board.
Aside from the well documented need to build one million more homes rapidly and sustainably, the report illustrates how construction policy and practices directly impact skilled employment, energy and carbon use, fuel poverty, and the health and wellbeing of communities. In other words, construction policy affects industrial, social, health, education and environmental strategies.

The contribution the construction sector makes in each of these areas depends on decisions we make: about how we design buildings to be healthier, how we build them, and how we upgrade and ‘green’ the existing built environment. There also needs to be a positive commitment to community engagement and leaving a lasting legacy from every project.

Naturally, the industry can’t achieve all of this on its own. The report offers policy principles that Government can use to set the right conditions for industry and unlock private sector investment. These include:

  • Policy certainty to give businesses the confidence to invest in innovation and skills.
  • Public sector leadership in creating high quality, sustainable places to drive up standards across the market.
  • A long-term approach to each development’s contribution to the community.
  • Allowing industry the flexibility to identify the best approaches to delivery, avoiding unnecessary red tape.

Case studies in the report give powerful and practical examples of how innovation and a sustainable approach can deliver enhanced social value, while also improving productivity and reducing waste. Some of the examples should inspire us all to be more ambitious. For example, an office building with excellent levels of daylight and no requirement for air conditioning, and which provides a comfortable working environment in India ought to raise questions about the buildings we design for the UK climate.

There are also challenges around how we make offsite and modern methods of construction mainstream options for projects of all sizes and types.

As proud members of the UKGBC, Osborne believes that the report is a powerful way to open a much needed debate. It will help us move towards a coherent vision for how the construction industry needs work in partnership with Government, public bodies and communities.

The future isn’t just about creating structures and fulfilling contracts, it’s about taking a broader view of what communities and individuals need. And then making opportunities to enhance the natural environment, biodiversity and community cohesion. Ultimately it is about building places that do genuinely work for everybody.

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