The slow dawn of sustainability

Recently I was asked to write an article on the one thing you can’t live without. While some people would probably pick their latest smart phone, tablet or app, the choice for me, although somewhat of a cliché, was simple… it’s the Earth.

Having been fortunate enough to travel and work across the world, I’ve seen first-hand the direct relationship between the natural environment and the built environment, its people and communities.

Whether we dwell and work in a small, rustic hut in Laos or a tall, modern skyscraper in Hong Kong, the environment that we have built around us directly affects all ways and walks of life.

Sustainability has, and will continue to play an ever increasing important role in the fragile relationship between the natural and built environment. In its broadest terms, it is defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ and it has far reaching and important concepts. Terminology such as BREEAM, carbon reduction, green issues, and energy efficiency has now become common place in our day-to-day working lives.

The Government has set a number of challenging targets for improving sustainability, with the overarching goal of an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the UK by 2050. Under the Energy Act (2011), the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) are set to come into force in 2018. This is estimated to result in as many as one in five commercial properties being deemed unlettable in the UK. The built environment will clearly be affected by these types of legislations and goals may seem ambitious. However, with some of the greatest environmental impacts coming from buildings, the UK will simply not meet the declared environmental targets without dramatically reducing the carbon-intensity and running costs of buildings. Rising to the challenge of developing more sustainable buildings is paramount for our future generations.

Arguably, the best way to predict the future is to create it. As a building surveyor, I find myself uniquely positioned to take on the sustainability challenge, as the role involves utilising knowledge of buildings and design and communicating with and advising a wide range of clients, designers and contractors to adopt more sustainable practices.

At Tuffin Ferraby Taylor, our team of building surveyors based in Manchester, work hand-in-hand with our clients across the UK. We advise and promote best practice in sustainability, applying both a cost effective and sustainable approach to existing and new portfolios. We have recently seen an increasing number of clients looking to invest in what sustainability can offer to improve existing practices and properties, through for example BREEAM Assessments, ESOS, Energy Auditing, and Low and Zero Carbon Technology studies.

Adopting a sustainability ethos should also underpin the design and construction of new properties. We look forward to well designed, aesthetically pleasing buildings, as epitomised by NOMA in Manchester, with increased flexibility in the use of space, and high BREEAM and energy efficiency ratings being made key priorities.

As Building Surveyors, we are privileged to be able to positively impact on the built environment and in turn the world around us. My hope is that sustainability and sustainable processes are pushed to the forefront from an early stage of any project, not only to better the environment in which we all live, but to preserve it for future generations.

Do you need help and support with sustainability, energy efficiency or energy compliance? Please contact me at

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