The economic downturn must not distract attention from plans to 'green' the UK's built environment, the new president of the Heating & Ventilating Contractors' Association (HVCA) has warned.
Martin Burton, who also heads the commercial contracting arm of Kent-based Delron Services, said: “Not only have we had to deal with one of the sharpest economic downturns in our history.
“We are also coming under ever-increasing pressure from the UK’s environmental commitment, and the need – over the next half-century – to meet carbon reduction targets.”
Burton, speaking at the HVCA's president's lunch, said the building engineering services sector was “ready, willing and fit for purpose” to deliver the low-carbon future.
He pointed out that chief construction adviser Paul Morrell's low carbon strategy called on the industry to “de-carbonise” its own businesses, provide more energy-efficient buildings, and create an infrastructure for clean energy and sustainable practices across the UK economy.
Burton said HVCA members were already on message:
“We are taking a proactive role in promoting to clients the economic and environmental benefits of low-carbon products and systems.
“We are already adapting our working practices to accommodate the developing requirements of the sustainability agenda.
“We have already overhauled our vocational qualifications and our training infrastructure to incorporate the emerging renewable technologies.”
However, he said that clients and building owners needed “to think in the long as well as the short term, and to take into account whole-life cost”, for Morrell's vision to become reality.
He added: “I call on architects and designers to test their concepts with colleagues in building engineering services, so as to arrive at an energy-efficient design that will prove genuinely carbon-friendly in practice.
“I call on principal contractors to involve their specialist sub-contractors early enough to bring their expertise to bear on a project, before too many decisions have been set in stone.
“I call on Government, as the UK’s largest construction client, to demonstrate best practice in terms of environmental responsibility, project management and fair payment.”