Building Council Launches ‘Green’ Portal for Construction Industry

The Policy Team last night attended the launch of the report of the UK Green Building Council’s Biodiversity Task Group. Over the past nine months, representatives from the UK GBC, the construction industry, ecologists, NGOs and Government Departments have met regularly in order to formulate guidance on how the built environment sector can encourage, not harm, biodiversity when developing new buildings. The result is a report, ‘Biodiversity and the Built Environment‘, and a new online portal to guide the industry through information already available in this area.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment, Wildlife and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, congratulated the group on their efforts. He stressed how important the Government perceived biodiversity to be and stated that ‘biodiversity and construction’ should not be an oxymoron. During the current economic crisis, it was more important than ever to seize opportunities to create green jobs and those with ‘green skills’, he said. In response to questioning he recognised that Defra could do more to ‘green’ its own estate and to encourage others to do the same, for example with regards to ensuring that green roofs are an integral part of every newly constructed industrial development. He said that he believed a start had been made.

An interesting point arose from discussion: are biodiversity and climate change in conflict on the political agenda? The Minister said that he recognised a tension here whilst others, once the Minister had left, expressed concern: biodiversity is clearly an integral part of the climate change debate and must not be forgotten or viewed as a distraction. Biodiversity is fundamental to our ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change. It is clear that NGOs and others, including the BES, need to do more to make sure biodiversity is seen as a mainstream priority for Government.