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Sustainability has been on the lips of everyone involved in the construction industry for the last 10 years. However, the issue of Sustainability arouse first in a Report named 'Our Common Future'. This then prompted the need for the conference in Brazil (1992). Discussed in this conference were the core principles of sustainability being; 'Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs' Greene, D. (1997)
Both 'Sustainability' and the 'Recession' are both terms in which have a range of meanings and attitudes. As the issue of Sustainability is being used more and more in the construction industry is recent years it is imperative to try and pin point exactly what sustainable commercial construction is. It is also paramount to determine just exactly what the 'recession' is and show just how they have affected each other.
In recent years, we have had two previous recessions, one being in the 1980's and the second one being in the early 1990's. This is the third 'recession' that the country has been in, in as many decades. In June 2008, the country officially entered the third recession, of which we are still in today,
Sustainability has become more of a problem in recent years due to the major issue of the recession. Sustainability needs to be addressed and identified and it is important that it is done within one of the largest industries, if not the biggest, being the construction industry. In my research I will hopefully try to clarify the terms, sustainable commercial construction and the recession and show how each one has affected the other.
In June 2008 the United Kingdom officially entered the recession that we are still in today. The main area that has been affected in this country and many other countries is construction, which has been hit massively. Companies and businesses right across the board are being affected from big names such as Balfour Beatty, the Kier Group down to small independent companies. Any sort of work is few and far between nowadays with every company accepting any sort of work no matter how small or big it is. I feel that this topic as it will show you past the commercial side of the recession. Everybody knows that the country is in the recession, but not that many people know exactly what a recession is and what damage it can cause to the economy and the country. It has a massive knock on affect right the way down the board and I believe that if we are going to get out of the recession quickly and efficiently people need to know how to adapt and work with it.
The recession is not very well understood for one simple factor: There is not a universally agreed upon definition. There is a standard newspaper definition of a recession 'is a decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) for two or more consecutive quarters'. There are 4 quarters to the year and each one lasts for approximately 12 weeks. This definition is not popular with most economists for two main reasons. Firstly, this definition does not take into account changes in other variables such as unemployment rate or consumer confidence. Secondly, by using quarterly data this definition makes it difficult to pinpoint when a recession starts to when it ends. The second definition is from the Business Cycle Dating Committee (BCDC). The committee provides a better way to find out whether or not there has been a definition as they determine the amount of business activity in the economy by looking at, employment, industrial production, real income and whole-sail retail sites.
The past 20 years has been a growing realisation that the current model of development is unsustainable and basically, we are living beyond our means. Before anyone knew anything about this current recession, one part of construction that was on the rise was sustainable development. It is rumoured that one of the key factors in which the recession was brought on is that companies were being too selfish in that they were thinking about the short term rather than the long term. Some unsustainable business practices were concerned about profiteering and not focused enough on balancing profit with social and environmental targets.
With the current economic crises being the way it is, companies are rarely willing to spend money on anything but essentials to their business. The credit crunch has virtually halted all new development and with falling land prices, affordability has become more important than ever, thereby highlighting development costs and the increased expense of complying with sustainable standards. Ultimately crucial issues related to sustainable development such as healthcare, education, affordable access to food, water, energy and responsible harvesting of natural resources are being affected as the crisis deepens. The increasing stress we put on resources and environmental systems such as water, land and air cannot go on forever.
The need for Sustainable Commercial Development is too great to be ignored. Even in this recession and the state that the economy is in it is absolutely paramount that we as a country, continent and as a human race continue to develop sustainably. Instead of businesses thinking of their short term future, they now need to be thinking about their long term future. Instead of reeling in the cash straight away, we need to hold out and wait for the return from sustainable buildings and development all round. The sooner people and companies realize this, then the sooner the construction industry will have left the recession and will be planning for the future and sustainable development won't be a thing upon which businesses sigh about doing, it will become the first thing they think of.