Sustainable development in the construction industry
A Gardiner & Theobald case study

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Page 5: The role of the quantity surveyor in sustainable construction

The Ten Commandments

In order to balance the economic equation of sustainability and affordability at a practical level, the Quantity Surveyor can follow what has been called The Ten Commandments for sustainability in design and construction. They are:

  1. Re-use existing buildings: Re-using existing buildings reduces costs and is quicker.
  2. Gardiner Theobald 7 Image 5Design For minimum waste: Make designs simple and with re-use in mind.
  3. Aim for lean construction: Avoid over specification and use pre-assembly and repetitivecomponents wherever possible.
  4. Minimise energy in construction: Use minimum quantities and avoid energy intensive materials like aluminium and cement.
  5. Minimise energy in use: Make best use of the natural environment. For example, open and closewindows, rather than use air conditioning.
  6. Don’t pollute: Dispose of waste and discharges sensibly. Make efficient use of the existing transport infrastructure.
  7. Preserve and enhance biodiversity: Protect the natural habitat.
  8. Conserve water resources: Recycle rain and waste water.
  9. Respect people: Build community relations and provide public information. Look after staff with regard to Health and Safety.
  10. Set targets: Targets should be set for the reduction of energy used, embodied energy, transport and waste. Setting targets is also a way of measuring achievements.

Working to these commandments goes a long way towards achieving sustainability in construction, but requires commitment from everyone involved. Even small savings in each area of the ten commandments can result in huge energy savings. For example, a 15% increase in initial building costs can result in a 5% per year saving in running costs. Most businesses in all market sectors now have an environmental policy and hence a part to play. A company that builds for its own occupation will consider higher expenditure at the outset for lower energy bills tomorrow. Occupiers are beginning to influence the initial specification of buildings by setting briefs that reflect the goal of sustainable development.

The role of the Quantity surveyor in sustainable construction

The Quantity Surveyor is integral to the property life-cycle and can influence other sectors of the property industry. However, all sectors of the industry need to be committed to the concept of sustainable development if it is to be implemented successfully. The property industry as a whole needs to:

  • increase awareness in social responsibility
  • increase awareness in sustainable construction
  • gain greater levels of commitment to The Ten Commandments
  • continue to develop technology that can make currently expensive sustainable methods more economically viable in the future
  • be prepared to pay more now for less later
  • aim for every development to be constructed using measured sustainable methods.

A key element in this process is matching the procurement of materials to the objectives of stakeholders such as occupiers who are concerned about the sustainability of the components that make up their property. Supported by stakeholders, the Quantity Surveyor is very influential at all stages of the property cycle throughout the property supply chain.

Gardiner & Theobald | Sustainable development in the construction industry