Construction News - Marketing's role in sustainable construction

Author: James Ellis, Chair of CIMCIG and Chris Ashworth, Vice Chair of CIMCIG

Our chair of CIM's Construction Industry sector interest group, James Ellis, and vice-chair of CIM's Construction Industry sector interest group, Chris Ashworth, spoke to Construction News about sustainable construction and the challenges marketers face.

As the question of sustainability gains momentum, the construction industry is faced with increasingly important and complex challenges to reduce its impact on the environment and natural resources. The UK Government is committed to low carbon construction, while consumers make greater demands for sustainable products, meaning that the sustainability agenda is being driven from the top down and the bottom up.

However, the challenging economic conditions of recent years and the consequent caution in investment mean that while sustainability may have been accepted as a guiding policy for construction, it is a policy whose implementation has been inconsistent.

Unfortunately, not all those in the built environment are fully aware of the benefits of implementing sustainable solutions.

On top of this, the benefits to the client often come with too many variables that cannot be measured in full. For example, the cost of implementing solar and battery storage solutions to a project will be impacted by energy prices over the time of the project, whilst clients often only have budget for the project not the whole lifespan of the completed build.

Discussing the topic, Chris Ashworth, vice chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry group (CIMCIG) said: “For commercial offices, clients often incorporate sustainable requirements, so their buildings are ‘Future Proofed’ and are able to meet the requirements of tenants. The more we market this to tenants and their employees, the greater the demand for sustainable features.”

The future and the evolving face of sustainability
Sustainability is evolving from using sustainable materials to taking into account what happens at the end of the buildings life and being able to re-use (as opposed to re-cycle) building components. It is BIM that will enable this. Chris Ashworth concludes: “Retailers were some of the first to embrace sustainable construction and have since found a number of benefits in terms of cost savings, employee retention and appeal to customers.

“In talking of marketing, we must not forget the important role of the UK Green Building Council and also the Green Construction Board and their work to drive change. Mention must also be made of BREAM, Ska, Cradle to Cradle, LEAF and the WELL building standard which are the measures used.”