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Trend towards green building will grow with greater vigour; Sustainability is rapidly rising up everyone's agenda, but is the recession limiting its delivery?

THE environmental friendliness of new premises is probably the last thing on the minds of directors looking to move at the moment - and who can blame them in these tough economic times.

Even when the property market was healthy, incorporating sustainability into projects could threaten a project's viability, such is the financial cost of protecting our environment.

Now, persuading directors weighing up business survival against extra investment for optional green extras, is even trickier.

Taking the long view, though, at Sanderson Weatherall we think the market will turn a corner and the trend for green building will grow with greater vigour than before the credit crunch.

For one thing, property with Very Good or Excellent ratings from the BRE Environmental Assessment Method will always be popular - especially with a government whose procurement policy will go green every time. Factor in the predicted falling costs of sustainable solutions and the increase in legislation and policies designed to promote green building and the long-term outlook is rosy for green building.

In the private sector, a responsible environmental image is becoming ever more important. This is neatly illustrated by the take-up of leases at Lingfield Point, a successful regeneration scheme near Darlington, which is currently a commercial business park but has plans in place to turn this into a flagship leisure and residential hub built on the principles of sustainability.

Organisations such as the Student Loans Company, Darlington Borough Council and the architectural practice Faulkner Brown have been eager to take up the idea of low energy offices, renewable energy sources, rainwater recovery and sustainable transport that feature in the development's proposals. As a leasing agency, we expect Lingfield Point's environmental credentials to be a major draw-card for prospective clients.

The cost of going green remains a major obstacle for our clients.

However, as the market for sustainability grows and competition among suppliers brings prices down, positive environmental measures will come within the scope of acceptable payback periods.

Without a crystal ball, predicting exactly when costs will drop enough to make sustainability universally accessible is a difficult business, but we will be in a strong position to help clients take full advantage.

Our team also expects a lot more legislation that promotes sustainability. Since October 2008, commercial and public buildings have had to display an Energy Performance Certificate and Energy Display Certificates when they are built, bought, rented or sold and it's easy to see their role growing in property transactions.

After all, the government has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, and it's difficult to imagine how such lofty ambitions can be met without rigorous legislation.

Sustainability might not be the catchword it once was, but it will regain its prominence. It is entrenched on the public agenda, forward-thinking procurement policy has been built around it and key sectors of the commercial property market value it.

Watch this space for sustainability's resurgence.

Robert Patterson, director of office agency and development at Sanderson Weatherall and David Jackson, the director of the agency for Teesside.

In the private sector, a responsible environmental image is becoming more important


LONG VIEW Robert Patterson.; LOW ENERGY OFFICES An artist's impression of the new student loans company offices. Below left, Lingfield Point, Darlington.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2009
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