As another calendar year gets underway, it is important to look forward and assess what is in store for the construction industry in 2013.
Green Deal launch
The Green Deal official launch date is fast approaching, and the initiative is undoubtedly going to be a constant hot topic this year. Though households have been able to receive assessments since 1 October 2012, the full service is not set for introduction until 28 January. With Greg Barker recently confirming a £2.9m communications campaign for 2013 and with £205m set aside for incentives, the energy efficiency scheme is set to dramatically take-off this year. However the Green Deal has, to date, been associated with various issues such as widespread confusion. Despite the rapidly approaching launch date, reports are still suggesting that the large majority of the UK public still don’t fully understand the government initiative. The Green Deal has a substantially promising outlook, but patience may be required for the potential to be fulfilled.
Under new regulations set to come into effect from April, all UK companies listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange will be required to report their direct and energy-related emissions. The introduction of mandatory carbon reporting will force businesses to seriously look at their energy management, and in doing so drive investment in efficiency measures.
November 2012 saw the emergence of the controversial news that all building regulations and national and local housing standards were to be rationalised.The government review is aiming to generate a more efficient delivery process for quality and sustainable housing, and therefore provide a significant boost to house delivery. Regardless of this positive aim, the news was met with general concern from the industry. With a clear plan of action set to be created by spring 2013, this is certainly something to keep an eye on.
Mandatory CE marking
Another regulation change that will have a considerable impact on the industry this year is the introduction of mandatory CE marking for construction products in the UK. CE marking is an indication that the product in question has met the minimum requirements of quality and health & safety. The regulation change is a result of the adoption of the Construction Products Regulation by the European Commission and UK Government, which is set to replace the Construction Products Directive. Any product that falls under a specific definition will have to be accompanied by a Declaration of Performance and ensure the display of the CE mark. Manufacturers will have until July 2013 to make sure that their relevant products meet the new regulation requirements.
Other topics worth watching
Other areas certainly worth mentioning include the expected rise of BIM and the launch of the revised LEED programme. BIM (Building Information Modelling) software is expected to continue its recent upsurge throughout the year. As the software can accurately represent almost all aspects of a project from the design stage to eventual demolition, the rise of BIM could have a dramatic impact on the sustainability of construction. The revised version of LEED, newly titled LEED v4, is due to launch this year with a markedly altered rating system. Changes to the green building programme are aiming to raise the bar for communities and homes seeking certification.
This is just a sample of some of the topics that are set to feature throughout the year. However, sustainability within the construction industry can be an unpredictable subject, and there will unquestionably be numerous other, less expected topics that will arise.
The Green Construction Board recently released its ‘One Year On Report’, which outlines the progress made to date in leading the change to a low carbon economy.
Established in October 2011, the Green Construction Board aims to deliver strategic guidance to the sector as well as monitor the progress of the actions in the Low Carbon Construction Action Plan (LCCAP). The recently released report provides an update of the board’s work, whilst detailing plans for the next 12 months.
To date, the Board has completed 84 of 162 actions identified in the LCCAP, and a further 73 are in progress. The on-going work related to the LCCAP has identified that a key issue holding back low carbon construction is the perception that related costs are higher. In response to this, the Board is developing an interactive case study tool which will illustrate how reduced carbon construction can result in lowered expenditure and running costs.
The report also outlines the Board’s detailed and extensive plans for the upcoming year. As the subject area of these plans is vast, it is vital that a clear focus is maintained, and this is provided by the Low Carbon Routemap for the built environment. Set to be finalised by March 2013, the Routemap will detail the key points along the timeline to the 2050 target of reducing UK carbon emissions by 80%.
The development of the emerging Routemap and LCCAP has led to the identification of four areas for priority action:
1. The need for greater focus on infrastructure;
2. The need to properly understand and address the ‘performance gap’ between intended and actual in-use performance of new and existing buildings;
3. The need to effectively brigade and marshal knowledge around the treatment of existing buildings;
4. The need to properly understand the nature of demand for green construction, properly and infrastructure and identify what more might be done to increase it.
For more details on the Green Construction Board’s Routemap or LCCAP progress, view the full ‘One Year On Report’ here.