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The State Of The Nation

20 October 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has launched a series of online infographics designed to profile ‘The State of Sustainability in the UK Built Environment’.

The specially commissioned project provides an accessible overview of the industry’s sustainability performance and impact across five priority areas:

  • Climate change.
  • Resource use.
  • Nature and biodiversity.
  • Health and wellbeing.
  • Socio-economic impact

With input from a range of stakeholders, including a significant number of UKGBC’s own members such as Arup, BRE and the University of Leeds, the project has brought existing datasets together alongside some data that was previously unpublished.

UKGBC views the project outputs as an important step in clarifying the scale of the sustainability challenge facing the built environment industry. As the organisation embarks on its second decade, it calls for all built environment professionals to take responsibility for making positive and transformational change happen.


Stand out stats include:

  • 22% of UK carbon emissions come from the operational and embodied carbon of the built environment.
  • 10% of UK carbon emissions come from heating buildings alone.
  • 3.2 million homes are in areas at risk of flooding from surface water.
  • Waste from construction, demolition and excavation represents 59% of the total UK waste.
  • Since 1970 56% of monitored species in the UK have declined.
  • The health effects of particulate air pollution cost the UK around £16 billion per year.
  • 11% of occupied homes in England are in serious disrepair

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at the UK Green Building Council, said: “This series of infographics and insight has been produced in response to demand from UKGBC members for clarity and perspective on the journey ahead. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve produced, but it’s not the whole picture: it’s clear that there’s a large amount of important data that simply isn’t being collected. In many cases, the data that does exist has so much variation in time and scope as to make direct comparisons very tricky.

“This project was designed to bring the data that is available to life, and in collaboration with experts, to highlight where we urgently need to either measure new aspects or take different actions to address the magnitude of the challenges we face.

“Now more than ever, our industry must show leadership and galvanise around some of these issues. We need bold and decisive action to make sustainable development truly second nature in the built environment.”

The landmark series was launched at UKGBC’s largest ever event, with over 400 built environment professionals in attendance to celebrate the charity’s 10th year of operation. In addition to the ‘State of Sustainability in the UK Built Environment’ project launch, guests also witnessed the unveiling of a new brand identity for UKGBC and heard from David Partridge, Managing Partner of Argent LLP, who takes over as Chair of UKGBC’s Board of Trustees.


Suite of new learning opportunities

Having called for all built environment professionals to take urgent action, the UKGBC has launched a suite of new learning opportunities to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills.

The new programme aims to deepen the technical knowledge and expertise of practitioners through learning interventions which tap into world class expertise. Targeting built environment professionals at large as opposed to sustainability experts per se, this modular programme encompasses a range of learning interventions – from bite-size learning accessible on the move, to face to face workshops and deep immersive training programmes based on live projects.

These courses are designed to share knowledge and build skills for individuals at all levels of awareness – from those with little knowledge wanting to learn more through to experienced practitioners wishing to develop new skills.

In its quest to make sustainable development second nature, UKGBC aims to strengthen collaboration and innovation in the sector. One of the new learning interventions is an immersive programme for a network of participants to solve sustainability challenges on a real-life project. Armed with the latest innovations and best practice case studies, delegates will identify strategic opportunities and put together a business case for implementing sustainability solutions at a real site.

Cat Hirst, Director of Learning & Innovation said: “Ultimately, everyone working in the built environment sector has a role to play in helping to achieve its radical transformation. Managing the balance of economic, social and environmental priorities requires a new way of thinking – one that challenges the status quo.  Our new programme aims to achieve this.  Now more than ever, our industry must show leadership and galvanise around some of these issues.  We need bold and decisive action to make sustainable development truly second nature in the built environment.”

For more details on the new Programme contact Emma Deady on

Picture: This building on London's Warwick Street has been designed with sustainability in mind

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 20 October 2017


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