New research, conducted by engineering consultancy Patrick Parsons with 100 senior executives of UK construction firms which have collectively been involved in over £26.6bn worth of construction projects over the past year, has highlighted the growing importance of using sustainable design and engineering in developments to lower carbon footprint and water use, reduce waste and minimise the materials used.
The research report, Sustainable by Design, revealed that more than three quarters (77%) think that sustainability planning in the early-stage design, engineering and construction is important in current and planned projects - of these, 19% described it as “extremely important”. Over half (53%) and 58% expect sustainable design to become even more important over the next 12 months and three years respectively.
When asked about the importance of different areas of sustainable design, over half (51%) said that energy-efficient systems and design utilising natural light, smart windows and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) was very important. This was followed by 47% who said that reducing water and sewerage waste was also a priority, with 35% saying that sourcing materials with lower embodied carbon, such as timber, clay and stone, was very important.
Looking ahead, the focus on minimising the impact of developments in terms of carbon footprint, waste and resources used continues. 53% of those surveyed said that the importance of energy efficient design will increase significantly over the next three years. 32% said that waste reduction and lean design (26%) which minimises the use of materials, will also increase significantly.
Commenting on the results of the survey, Patrick Parsons director David Pickering said: “Our research highlights the growing focus on sustainable design and engineering as the UK construction industry seeks to play its part in tackling climate change by reducing carbon footprint and the use of natural resources and materials in developments.
“Our project experience reflects the industry’s aspiration to achieve integrated, holistic and sustainable design and that this requires a radical rethink of the design process. We are working with clients, consultants and contractors together to achieve this goal. From project mobilisation, our engineers test their designs against low carbon benchmarks, input to whole life carbon reporting and work with the overall team to ensure a cost effective and sustainable design.”