The area subject to most change at present is sustainability, where the government is trying to implement a series of policies based around four priority areas for immediate action:
- Sustainable Consumption and Production
- Climate Change and Energy
- Natural Resource Protection and Environmental Enhancement
- Sustainable Communities
These policies will impact on all building products and materials to some extent and each needs consideration on an individual basis.
For example, the 2008 BRE Green Guide to Specification is an on-line and printed tool aiming to provide designers and specifiers with straightforward andindependent guidance on making the best environmentalchoices. It rates and compares a range of specificationswithin various major construction elements (such as walls, floors and roofs), with summary ratingsranging from ‘A+’ for best environmental performance to ‘E’or the worst. The summary rating is a measure of overallenvironmental impacts covering thirteen issues.
Green Guide ratings also form an important part of BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s EnvironmentalAssessment Method) a widely used environmental assessment method for buildings, with the new version taking effect from August 2008. Various versions have been createdto suit specific common building types, as well as a bespokeversion for others. With BREEAM 2008, credits are awardedin nine categories according to performance and addedtogether to produce a single overall score on a scale rangingfrom ‘Pass’ to the newly added ‘Outstanding’ category.A similar approach is also taken with the Code for SustainableHomes (which replaces Ecohomes) and the governmenthas confirmed that it is mandatory for all new homes tohave a rating against the Code. Ratings range from CodeLevel 1 – ‘above regulatory standards’ up to Code Level 6– ‘aspirational standard based on zero carbon emissions forthe dwelling and high performance across all environmentalcategories’. The Code will, during the next few years, become directly linked to the Building Regulations and we can expect a similar approach with BREEAM for other building types.