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National and Regional Reports

Build to Last – Executive Summary

This review highlights where CITB-ConstructionSkills might effectively channel its efforts to help the construction industry make its full contribution to sustainable development (SD).

The key conclusions from the review are that:

  • SD will be driven by legislation, regulation and to a lesser extent shareholder pressure.  
  • Although client and consumer interest is growing, it is only a few niche markets where customers will add sustainability to their decision criteria and even then it will take second place to value, location and function. 
  • The industry’s contribution to SD extends from what is built, to how it is built and lastly where it is built. To influence all of these aspects requires a co-ordinated contribution from all in the supply chain. Generally the client has most influence over what is built, the investor/developer over where it is built and the constructor over how it is built.
  • The progress towards adopting sustainable development varies across the industry. Some large and usually public sector funded projects (for example the new Welsh Assembly Building) have sustainable development designed into the location, the construction method and the final building. Those involved in such projects (typically large companies and their supply chains) are exposed to, and capable of delivering the many aspects of the sustainable development agenda. In our review we found case studies of these high value highly sustainable projects. For projects that cost between £0.5m and £5m the degree of sustainable development is largely dictated by planning, building and environmental legislation which, on this size of project, is monitored by enforcement agencies. Legislation on sustainable development applies equally to the thousands of small construction projects however monitoring of this vast number of jobs is less easy and so compliance is largely at the “discretion” of the firm.
  • Sustainable development should be seen as part of a wider improvement agenda in the industry. Ensuring a business (or industry) can be sustained into the future, operates within the law and is responding to the demands of its clients, is part of good management.
  • The change required of the industry (and on which CITB-ConstructionSkills should focus) can be classified into four discrete areas;
  • Enable the industry to build legally
  • Enable the industry to build sustainably
  • Enable the industry to build sustainable buildings/roads/infrastructure
  • Enable the industry to build sustainable communities
  • The main barriers to this change include:
  • The priority given to sustainable construction over that required to achieve more traditional corporate goals of return on investment, development time and cost.
  • The current disjointed relationship between clients and contractors.
  • The extended supply chain – SD requires the intervention of the whole supply chain.
  • The focus on price based procurement and short term calculation of costs and benefits.
  • The availability of more sustainable products and processes.
  • Adequate/appropriate skills to support sustainable construction.

Download the Executive Summary of the Report:

'Build to Last' Reviewing Sustainable Construction - Executive Summary 291kb PDF file

To request a copy of the full report please email or

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