It isn’t easy being green. That’s the message that the UK construction industry seems to give out: as a whole, there are still no industry wide sustainable building initiatives in place. That said, there is definitely a shift in public consciousness, with sustainability and eco friendliness becoming more important on an individual level. As the public perception of its own energy use coincides with a post recession mentality (save, not spend), the idea of spending in the short term to save in the long run is translating into changes in the domestic redevelopment and new build market. London construction companies and trades people are starting to offer greener energy options as standard – from heated skirting boards and photovoltaic panels to efficiency rated boilers.
Will the Construction Qualifications Reflect New Building Techniques?
Before the Construction Skills Certification Scheme there was no industry wide way of measuring the skill levels and health and safety requirements of the 300+ trades in the UK construction industry. The CSCS was put in place in response to a Parliamentary review that recognised a fluctuating standard of competency and health and safety literacy as a problem: and was dovetailed with the NVQ system (and the SVQ in Scotland) to allow the industry to have a way of measuring skills directly.
As noted there are, yet, no industry wide qualifications or regulations that specifically refer to the “green” construction techniques. BREEAM, an eco-efficiency standard aimed at giving construction companies a framework for developing future friendly office buildings, is starting to gain currency among companies that see eco friendliness as the tender-winning attribute it is becoming. BREEAM itself is unlikely to become a governing body, like JIB and ECS did: but it might have enough influence to see “green” skills incorporated in the NVQ modules that apply to electrotechnical engineers and other skilled workers.
Will a Change in NVQ Modules Have an Effect on the CSCS Card?
Changes to NVQs are unlikely to have much of an effect on the actual process of health and safety testing or CSCS Cards. The health and safety issues present in installing a radiant skirting board rather than a radiator are much the same (the radiant skirting board is safer so there should theoretically be less to learn!); and the skill levels required to fit it still require an understanding of a traditional boiler and pipes heating system. The questions in the test may differ – but the types of test and CSCS Card have no reason to change.
What About UK Construction Law?
Current UK construction law has made provisions for some eco friendly concerns, mostly to do with emissions and energy use. The biggest pressure on the UK construction industry, though, comes not from direct construction law but from Government initiatives designed to punish any industry that has an adverse impact on the environment. The result is an upwards trend in green practices within British construction – the future of the construction industry.