Market Insight

Sustainability – more than just a fad

January 18, 2016
Sustainability in Property Industry

Sustainability is one of the most talked about but least understood of terms in the property sector, and has become increasingly prevalent since it was first coined by the UN Environment Commission in 1987. But what does it actually mean?

Named after the chair of the commission, Gro Harlem Brundland, sustainable development was defined as meeting the construction needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Over half the world’s population now live and work in an urban environment, so being able to build a sustainable future has become one of the cornerstones of the construction industry. Integral to creating sustainable development, however, is innovation.

This is the key focus of Innovate UK, the Government’s innovation agency, which created the Future City Catapult to drive innovation in our urban environments, and bring new ideas to market in order to help create smart future cities.

As well as being a key priority for Government, sustainability also regularly forms part of the corporate social responsibility policies of many businesses we work with, as they recognise the benefits it can bring – whether environmental, social or financial.

Indeed, when sourcing new premises or commissioning a design and build, more and more of our clients are looking for sustainable credentials, such as BREAM Excellent ratings, to meet the expectations of their green policies.

As a result, developers have become ever more innovative in order to create more sustainable low-carbon developments that are resilient to the effects of climate change such as flooding, for example, an issue felt so keenly by the many businesses recently affected by severe floods across the UK.

Such innovative thinking should be clearly demonstrated in the planning application process, as the National Planning Policy Framework has made it clear that there ought to be a presumption in favour of granting planning permission for sustainable developments, to help the Government reach its targets for low carbon construction.

So whilst it may have been nearly 30 years since the term was first coined, and there may still be some confusion about what sustainability means in practice, its importance hasn’t diminished. Quite the opposite in fact, sustainability now plays an integral role in property development.

Not only that, as we recognise the increasing importance of creating a built environment that can respond to our needs, both now and in the future, we can expect sustainability to become increasingly important as the quest to create smart future cities continues.

For help in finding a developer or development with the necessary sustainability credentials to meet with the aims of your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Business Space team.