The concepts of ‘peak oil’ and ‘sustainability’ are closely related but with the cost of crude oil at the lowest level since 2004 http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/19/ ‘peak oil’ is not so much on the mainstream agenda these days (even though there is obviously less of it). But what of ‘sustainability’ and the ‘green agenda’?
Something similar has happened there too. After last year’s general election the ‘greenest government ever’ decided to cut ‘the green crap’. In July 2015 the ‘Zero Carbon Homes’ policy was scrapped along with tighter energy efficiency standards which would have come into force this year. Government funding for the ‘Green Deal’ has now been pulled and feed in tariffs for electricity-generating renewable energy technologies have been steadily reduced with talk of larger contributions towards the cost of grid infrastructure.
My take on it is that ‘sustainability’ is simply now assimilated into mainstream practice. Photovoltaics and heat pumps are now commonplace and a reduction in government support was inevitable. As the government steps back the future of the ‘sustainability’ agenda now has to be in the hands of the construction industry and building owners and users. It has to offer a return on investment.
I’ve seen plenty of new ideas which were originally much talked about ‘fringe’ activities become part of mainstream practice – key performance indicators (KPI’s), benchmarking, off-site prefabrication (the site as ‘assembly yard’), cost risk management and allocation, life cycle costing, zero defects, partnering, framework agreements, building information modelling (BIM) and so on. ‘Sustainability’ is another of these. The reduction in the ‘noise’ associated with it recently is an indication that it has become part of the mainstream and not an indication of its demise.