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Building design driven by rising energy costs

28 Feb 11 Rising energy costs are driving demand for architects to improve environmental performance of buildings according to a new report based on a survey of more than 6,000 architects.

Respondents overwhelmingly reported that reducing operational energy consumption, through improved insulation for example, was highy important in delivering buildings with a lower environmental impact.

Reducing carbon emissions of the building in operation was also rated a highly important factor by 70% of respondents. Daily operations of buildings account for 43% of the UK's total carbon emissions.
The survey by Glenigan found that 87% of architects believe that specifying materials to conserve energy when designing a building with a low environmental impact is highly important. 94% believed that they would specify more such material over the next two years. 86% of respondents believed the higher upfront costs to be primary barrier to the specification of more environmentally beneficial products. Clients and contractors risk aversion to innovative products were also reported to be significant barriers.
Public sector clients were reported to be more demanding in terms of improving environmental performance, according to 74% of respondents. Commercial property developers and owners were cited by only 32% and 31% respondents respectively as demanding improved environmental performance.
70% of respondents considered government policy to be responsible for increasing client demand for improving environmental performance whereas only 29% identified 'improved commercial return' to be stimulating demand. Building regulations are the main driver, followed by the voluntary Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM. However BREEAM was criticised for being overcomplicated and inflexible.

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