Last edited 23 Apr 2015

Building a better quality of life: A strategy for more sustainable construction

In May 1999, the Government published ‘A better quality of life – a strategy for sustainable development for the United Kingdom’. This report suggested that sustainable development was about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come whilst achieving social, economic and environmental objectives. It proposed the following priorities:

  • More investment in people and equipment for a competitive economy.
  • Achieving higher growth whilst reducing pollution and use of resources.
  • Sharing the benefits of growth more widely and more fairly.
  • Improving our towns and cities and protecting the quality of the countryside.
  • Contributing to sustainable development internationally.

In April 2000 the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions published ‘Building a Better Quality of Life: A strategy for more sustainable construction’. In it, they stated that the strategy, ‘…aims to provide a catalyst for change in construction across the United Kingdom. It identifies priority areas for action, and suggests indicators and targets to measure progress. It sets out action that the Government has already taken and further initiatives that are planned, and highlights what others can do. The Government will use the Strategy as a framework to guide its policies towards construction, and will encourage people involved in construction to do the same.’

The objectives of the report were listed as:

  • To increase awareness and promote understanding of sustainable construction.
  • To define government expectations from the construction industry regarding sustainability.
  • To show how government policies will encourage change.
  • To stimulate action by individual businesses.

The report suggested ‘sustainable development’ means meeting needs in ways which deliver:

  • Social progress which recognises everyone’s needs.
  • Protecting the natural environment.
  • Effective use of natural resources.
  • Increasing employment and economic growth.

Ten themes for action were proposed for the construction industry to implement the strategy:

  • Reuse existing built assets.
  • Design for minimum waste.
  • Aim for lean construction.
  • Minimise energy in construction.
  • Minimise energy in use.
  • Reduce pollution.
  • Preserve and enhance bio-diversity.
  • Conserve water resources.
  • Respect communities and the local environment.
  • Set achievable goals.

Nick Raynsford MP, then the Construction Minister, said, ‘This Strategy for more sustainable construction is a significant milestone on the road to a more socially and environmentally responsible, better-regarded construction industry. It creates a framework within which the industry can make a strong contribution to the better quality of life signalled by our sustainable development strategy. In its preparation, I think we have captured the very real desire for change which now exists within the industry and amongst its clients.’

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