Survey shows clients are a driving force in the adoption of sustainable design

Architects and clients are major driving forces in facilitating the greener design of buildings, according to the Green Index survey carried out by Autodesk and RIBA.

The survey shows that architects are taking personal responsibility for the impact of the construction industry on the environment, with 88% agreeing that they should practice sustainable design wherever possible. They also see clients as a major influencer, with 70% of architects saying they are a driving force in facilitating greener design.

The results of this survey are seen as suggesting that building owners and developers recognise that green design results in lower operating costs and, therefore, reduced total cost of ownership.

Autodesk has partnered with the American Institute of Architects to publish an annual Green Index in the USA, but this is the first time that the Green Index has been measured in the UK.

Half of the respondents say that clients inquire about green design specifications on at least 50% of their projects, and the other half say that they initiate the conversation — suggesting that architects are becoming more skilled are putting forward their case and convincing clients. Top green-design practices include the following.

•Using salvaged or recycled building material products, 64%.
•Implementing renewable on-site energy sources, 59%.
•Including retention tanks for storm-water run-off, 56%.
•Using design software to explore alternative materials, 41%.
•Specifying, predicting and evaluating solar heating, 41%.

Growth areas over the next five years are predicted to include the use of green or vegetated roof covering, highly reflective roofing material and the use of design software to specify material quantities and schedules to minimise construction waste.

Adrian Dobson, RIBA’s director of practice believes that the survey shows that, despite the economic downturn, sustainable design and construction are still key issues in the industry. ‘The Autodesk/RIBA Green Index shows client interest in green buildings is really starting to take off, with over half (53%) believing this is being helped by the reduced operating costs of green buildings. This contradicts the popular belief that when money is scarce, clients are more worried about initial costs than long-term savings and are not so concerned about their environmental credentials.’

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