Change Not the Status Quo Is Needed; PLANNING AHEAD: 'Old Methods of Procurement, Management and Approaches Will No Longer Do'

Article excerpt


SUSTAINABILITY, and sustainable construction are the by-words of our professional life and work in the new millennium.

All, I am sure, have heard of both, and instinctively feel they are right and should be pursued.

But what do they mean?

How do they apply to my daily duties? Are they matters "someone else" in the chain worries about? How do I fit in?

Do the words mean the same to all of us? Do we need some benchmarks, guidelines and exemplars of good practice and international comparisons to assist us?

Yes, we do.

Each element of our industry is involved - from construction materials, site selection, construction methods, through to specific areas of energy production, solid waste management, water supply and waste-water disposal, dams and reservoirs, conservation of reservoir storage, river flood protection, coastal and marine structures, engineering for cities, sustainable buildings, construction for rural development and transport infrastructure.

We know much about history, how we have arrived at "where we are", but the main debate will be into funding and obligation issues which, naturally, become more speculative.

Proper, appropriate and realistic costing of the environment and environmental factors have long caused problems, and the costing and evaluation of sustainable construction is similarly difficult.

We will need to explore "taxation" and "subsidy" as options for paying for sustainability.

In truth, as "rethinking construction" initiatives around the UK show, it is a combination of waste reduction, streamlining processes, innovation, working partnerships, non-adversarial working, jointly agreed risk-assessment, and fair allocation of risk and benefits - in addition to gaining public acceptance through taxation or subsidy, which will lead to the answers. As ever, the devil is in the detail.

What is clear is that old methods of procurement, management and adversarial approaches will no longer do. …