World Green Building Week kicks off today with a rallying call to everyone – ‘Get Up, Green Up’.
It’s timely, given the UN Climate Change summit in New York tomorrow and the weekend of marches attracting many thousands of citizens concerned about the environment.
World Green Building Week is held annually to highlight the importance of sustainable buildings for businesses, communities and individuals. The number of events around the globe has been doubling every year and it’s the biggest opportunity for groups like the UK Green Building Council to shine the spotlight on the global movement and collective mission to create sustainable built environments.
The week’s focus amplifies the global diversity of activities and helps to give energy to the growing global sustainable built environment community. World Green Building Week started in 2009 to create a more connected, more interactive, more public conversation around the role buildings play in creating the sustainable future.
Globally, the built environment is responsible for 40-50% of natural resource use, 20% of water use, 30-40% of energy use and around a third of CO2 emissions, which is not sustainable.
The solution is to construct both green buildings and transform current property stock to minimise environmental impact, improve quality of life and give better value for organisations.
We have long argued that sustainability is a commercially sound proposition as well as a game changer in environmental management. From energy waste reduction to energy and water savings, recycling and changing behaviour, every consumer and every organisation definitely benefits financially.
The transition to the green economy can only come with a united effort from both businesses, organisations, consumers and government.
And the Government is pushing the green agenda more robustly, as Baroness Verma, minister at the Department of Environment and Climate Change underlined at an energy conference last Thursday.
Baroness Verma advised delegates that creating an energy efficient society was central to sustainable growth.
She said this would be achieved, “by realising that energy efficiency belongs at the heart of thriving economy. By cutting down on waste, businesses can increase their productivity, boost their profitability and improve their competitiveness.
“In 2011/12 the UK energy efficiency sector was worth over £18 billion, and employed more than 100 thousand people. In the wider low carbon and environmental goods and services sector, the UK is now sixth largest player in the global low carbon and environment goods and services market. That’s on a par with financial services.”
There’s more to achieve, particularly in the domestic sector but the Government is committed to improving energy efficiency of buildings in the private rented sector, bringing forward regulations around that soon.
At the individual level, there are many examples of people making the move to reduce carbon emissions and save both energy and water. Our work with the Oxford Green House is just one example where a 1960s end-of-terrace townhouse is being transformed into a low to zero carbon home that should be a pathfinder for people who want to make a sustainable contribution to the environment.
The impetus for sustainable built environments, driven by the compelling need to take control of carbon emissions, is growing exponentially. The previous resistance to change informed by fears of negative effects on commercial life should no longer be needed or rational. It makes sound business sense to move to a sustainable future.
You can follow World Green Building Week 2014 discussions through the hashtag #WGBW14.