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Government board promises green construction growth

The construction industry is hoping the formation of a new government board will break down departmental silos and end confusion over green policy.

Dan Labbad, the chief executive of Lend Lease Europe, Middle East and Africa (pictured), was appointed Green Construction Board chairman last week and will work with construction minister Mark Prisk to recruit members and establish a remit.

Speaking exclusively to Construction News, he said that he backs chief construction adviser Paul Morrell’s assessment that UK companies can compete with developing economies based on their low-carbon credentials.

Mr Labbad said: “We are progressively seeing a global shift to a green economy and firms with the right skills and expertise will have a competitive advantage and exportable business offer.

“I’m confident there will be long-term opportunities up for grabs if the sector continues to press ahead with investment in its people, technology and new ways of working.”

Mr Labbad’s appointment last week came despite claims by Mr Morrell in June that the co-chair would be appointed “within weeks” and the expectation that the board would hold its first meeting last month.

A Department for Business Innovation and Skills spokesman said the timeline had changed due to issues including the summer break from Parliament.

The Lend Lease chief said the board could play a “vital role in driving change in the construction sector” and admitted that a clear understanding of what was required in green construction and carbon emission measurement was central to its potential success.

He said: “Promoting change in the industry is a challenge and for many operators Sustainability is confusing and/or a box-ticking exercise. 

“Construction is a large, disparate sector, employing hundreds of thousands of people and change will take time.”

UK Green Building Council chief executive Paul King said that the body’s chairman Mr Labbad is the right man to lead industry representation on the GCB, but called for the board to break down barriers between government departments to create consistency in the definition of green building.

Federation of Master Builders director of external affairs Brian Berry said he wanted to see the GCB take a holistic view of the green agenda and start proving the government can work together on green issues.

“At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any one particular person who is seeing the bigger picture and a lot of the government seems to be working in silos. There now needs to be a focus on joining up the dots because there are still a lot of areas where there is confusion and uncertainty.”

Among the trade bodies applying for member roles on the board are the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Federation of Master Builders and UKGBC, while main contractors are also expected to be represented.

While the remit for the board has yet to be established, it is expected to seek case studies and provide advice on major policy areas, including the Green Deal, and offer clarity on future policy for the industry.

Speedy chief executive Steve Corcoran said: “I believe the green agenda should be a driver for the industry and we are committed to it by law, but the question is who will pay for it?

“I talk to a lot of main contractors who say that clients want carbon cuts but they want it at the same cost, so something has to give.”


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