What is Sustainable construction?

The UK strategy for more sustainable construction, Building a Better Quality of Life, suggests key themes for action by the construction industry. These are:

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  • - design for minimum waste
  • - lean construction & minimise waste
  • - minimise energy in construction & use
  • - do not pollute
  • - preserve & enhance biodiversity
  • - conserve water resources
  • - respect people & local environment
  • - monitor & report, (ie use benchmarks)

Most of these points simply make good business sense eg minimising waste increases efficiency. Sustainability is of increasing importance to the efficient, effective & responsible operation of business.

Key Strands

  • environmental responsibility
  • social awareness
  • economic profitability

Sector Sustainability Strategies

A number of construction sector sustainability strategies either have been or are due to be published. They aim to develop a common understanding of the issues & present effective & targeted approaches for each sector to contribute to achieving a more sustainable construction industry. Some of the sectors being addressed include: building services, cement & concrete, wood, construction products, housing. Those published include: Society, Sustainability & Civil Engineering (April 2002), Brick: made for
generations (Nov 2002), Building a Better Future (steel sector, Dec 2002).


Building a better future (Dec 2002) is a comprehensive strategy for the steel sector, developed by British Constructional Steelwork Association (, Corus (, Steel Construction Institute ( & Sheffield University ( ).

Civil Engineering

led by the Institution of Civil Engineers ( their sector strategy Society, sustainability & civil engineering (April 2002) outlines an approach to making the sector more sustainable & was well-received. ICE is working to integrate it across its sector's working practices.



BCA & Concrete Centre's interim report (April 2003) aims to improve sector sustainability performance (eg KPIs for British Precast & QPA member companies) & shows how through building design concrete's thermal properties lead to energy efficient structures that save money. see &


Naturally Wood by UK Forest Products Association & A Sustainability Strategy for the UK Sawmilling & Wood-based Panel Industry were launched Feb 2004.


British Ceramic Confederation ( ) & Brick Development Association ( ) published in Nov 2002 a sustainable development strategy, Brick. Made for generations – the case for sustainability.



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