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Green Construction or Pyramids of Waste


28th February, 2007

36 of the UK's leading construction companies, including British Land, Land Lease, HBOS and Barratt Homes, have launched a UK Green Building Council that will aim for "zero carbon, zero water and zero waste", according to its chairman Peter Rogers.

The council estimates 50% of UK greenhouse emissions are produced from occupied housing with a further 10% coming from the production of building materials.
20% of those materials are said to end up as waste, creating 88 ‘Pyramid’ sized mounds of waste a year.
‘The task in front of us is great but the importance of success is even more so,’ said Mr Rogers.
The GBC believes that around a third of carbon emissions from buildings could be cut very easily with existing technology.
John Garbutt, of Kingspan Ltd, said that better insulation, for example, could improve buildings' efficiency to the point where heating was no longer needed.

‘This stuff is do-able right now. It is just that the industry needs to get out of the way it has always thought.’

Encouragingly the council intends to attract existing landlords as well to improve old houses as well as new. Of the 23 million homes in the UK, 9 million have cavity walls without insulation in them.

The council, in part set up to pre-empt government regulation, aims to extend its membership greatly and have ‘aggressive and achievable’ targets in place within six months.
Rab Bennetts, founder of architects Bennetts Associates, said there had been a fundamental change whereby clients were demanding that the buildings they buy were much more sustainable and green than in the past. ‘The climate of opinion has changed. Demand will force us to come up with these things,’ he said.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist February 2007


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