By Professor Chris Gorse, Director of the Leeds Sustainability Institute

Having been invited to speak and take part in the “Making sustainable construction happen, Green for growth reality check” session at EcoBuild 2013, I was asked to join a panel discussion in the Arena with Rt Hon Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Enterprise.

The host was none other than Jonathon Dimbleby, who drew out a balanced debate on the challenges that are facing the industry and the measures necessary to build confidence and start to move the industry from the grips of recession.  Other panel members included  Mike Putnam, Chief Executive of Skanska UK and Co-Chair Green Construction Board  and Rhian Kelly, Director for business environment at the CBI.

While positive statements were made, clearly the challenge of delivering buildings takes much more than words, we need action from both the policy makers and industry. Yet, I do see some signs that the industry is starting to get to grips with the gap between theory and reality and what it needs to do in terms of research if it is to gain confidence in those that are investing in green construction.

I still argue for a fabric first approach, get it right and we can adequately service and build smart interfaces that are dynamic enough to respond to the environment and user needs.  The Green Deal Trial that we are undertaking in Leeds will also give us a greater understanding of what can be achieved with the existing building stock.  As far less than 1% of our current buildings meet nearly zero or passive standards, almost all of our existing buildings need an eco upgrade. If we can build confidence that is a lot of buildings for the industry to develop.