UK Green Building Council

Key statistics

Fast facts and stats on key built environment issues.

Climate change, energy and carbon emissions

Almost half of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas which causes climate change, actually come from the things we do every day. 
Energy Saving Trust 01/04/08

The UK has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. 
Climate Change Act 2008

If temperatures rise by 5° Celsius, for example, up to 10% of global economic output will be lost; there is currently a 50% chance of this happening. In the worst case scenario, the global economy could shrink by 20%. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ (from the Stern Review) Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 2, Page 3, 01/01/08

According to the Energy Saving Trust, £3bn is spent powering consumer electronic and computer products in the UK every year (30% of the average household electricity bill). 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 4, Page 13. 01/01/08

In the UK we have 40% of Europe’s wind energy but this is largely an untapped resource, currently providing only 0.5% of our electricity requirements. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 4, Page 16. 01/01/08

Without decisive action, the Sustainable Development Commission estimates that traffic congestion could cost the UK £30bn/year by 2010. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 9, Page 4. 01/01/08

Construction industry and carbon emissions

Energy from fossil fuels consumed in the construction and operation of buildings accounts for approximately half of the UK’s emissions of carbon dioxide. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 2, Page 5, 01/01/08

In 2004, for example, the public sector accounted for 34% of new non-domestic building construction and 37% of non-domestic refurbishment (totalling 1.45% of UK GDP). 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 3, Intro 01/01/08

Merton’s original target was to achieve a 10% reduction in carbon dioxide through the use of renewable technologies on all new major sites. In other areas the figures have varied; Kirklees Council, for example, have proposed that by 2011, 30% of energy consumption in every one of its new buildings must come from renewables. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 3, Page 3. 01/01/08

The construction and maintenance of buildings and other structures is responsible for around half of UK carbon dioxide emissions. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 3, Page 2. 01/01/08

Housing alone generates 27% of UK emissions, of which 73% is used for space and water heating. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 3, Page 2. 01/01/08

Around 10% of UK emissions are associate with the manufacture and transport of construction materials, and the construction process. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 3 Page 2. 01/01/08

Since the start of the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by around 30% , and is likely to have doubled by 2100 at the latest. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 3, Page 2. 01/01/08

The requirement for zero net carbon production at level 6 means that any carbon produced from energy use must be balanced by carbon savings elsewhere (i.e. over the course of a year, energy taken from the grid when demand is high is balanced by energy which is returned to the grid when demand is lower; this means that onsite generation of renewable energy is generally necessary). 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 10, Page 3. 01/01/08

Construction waste

More than 400 million tonnes of materials get delivered to site each year. Of these 60 million tonnes go straight to tip due to over ordering, damage resulting for poor storage or because of inappropriate ordering. 
‘Time to bin industry’s lavish habits’ by Mike Baker, Thursday 20th March Construction News, Issue 7060 

The effects of construction activity on waste production are enormous. The industry produces 109m tonnes of construction waste each year (24% of total waste), of which up to 13% is delivered and unused. It produces three times more waste than all UK households combined. Although around half of this waste is reused or recycled, the amount that is simply disposed of remains alarming. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 6, Page 1, 01/01/08

According to a recent report by the Wates Group (2006), the UK construction industry sends 36 million tones of waste to landfill sites each year.
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 6, Page 1. 01/01/08

The government’s new Sustainable Construction Strategy is expected to aim for zero waste to landfill by 2020. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 6, Page 4. 01/01/08

Materials

Over 90% of non-energy minerals extracted in the UK are used to supply the construction industry with materials. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development,’  Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 2, page 4, 01/01/08

The construction industry consumes around 6 tonnes of materials per year for every person living in the UK. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 2, Page 5. 01/01/08

Recycling

According to the Concrete Centre, 42 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste was recycled in the UK in 2001, an increase of 382% since the early 1990s. The use of recycled/secondary aggregates also increased by 94% between 1989 and 2025. 
‘Construction and Sustainable Development’ Plain English, Constructing Excellence, Section 6, Page 2. 01/01/08

London 2012

Taken from the ODA's London 2012 sustainability report 1/12/11

  • The Velodrome has achieved a 31% reduction in carbon emissions over
    2006 building regulations.
  • The Energy Centre’s natural gas-fired CCHP engine is predicted to
    reduce annual CO2 emissions of the Olympic Park by 25% and
    the Energy Centre’s 3 MW biomass boiler is predicted to save 1,000
    tonnes of CO2 per annum.
  • More than 90% of the cooling provided to the venues will be
    HFC-free after the Games.
  • Over 85,000 tonnes of embodied carbon have been saved,
    predominantly through efficient building design and average cement
    substitutions of 32%.
  • The ODA is on track to reduce potable water use by 57%
    through water reduction and water substitution measures, including
    a new water recycling treatment centre.
  • Approximately 2,000 tonnes of waste has been removed from the construction site by barge.
  • A total of 98.5% of demolition waste has been recycled and in some
    cases reused – eight buildings have been reused off-site.
  • More than 80% of soil has been cleaned and reused on the
    Olympic Park.
  • Foundations for the Aquatics Centre, Handball Arena and the Olympic Stadium have used concrete with more than 30% of recycled materials.
  • At least 20% of the precast concrete units for the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre seating terraces, temporary bridge decks and Handball Arena comes from recycled aggregate.

International

The global built environment is responsible for:Green buildings can deliver:
30-40% of global energy consumption 30-50% reduction in energy use
30% of greenhouse gas emissions35% decrease in carbon emissions
3 billion tonnes of raw materials used annually70% decrease in waste output
20% of global water usage40% reduction in water usage

Source: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2012

United States

  • Five direct jobs and five indirect jobs for every US$1 million invested in energy efficiency retrofits.
  • A landmark study has found that green schools and universities can deliver a 41.5% improvement in the health of students and teachers, as well as a 15% improvement in student learning and a 25% improvement on test scores due to good lighting and ventilation. 
  • A study of more than 21,000 students showed a dramatic correlation between daylit school environments and student performance, including a 20% faster progression in maths, a 26% faster progression in reading and an increased performance of up to 10% when students had window views.
  • Bronson Methodist Hospital, US: Applying green design principles such as improved ventilation, natural light and views of the outdoors can deliver in a 11% reduction in secondary infections and a decrease in nursing turnover rates.

Australia

  • Office worker productivity increases of 10.9%, amounting to savings of $2 million per year, were reported after the City of Melbourne’s staff moved into their new offices.  At another building, sick leave costs fell by 44%, lawyers’ billing ratios increased by 7% and secretaries typing speeds by 9%.
  • Up to 10,000 new jobs in the construction industry, and almost 27,000 across the economy, from upgrading a significant quantity of office stock.
  • Flinders Medical Centre, Australia: faster recovery times after giving birth, with a 9% increase in the number of women giving birth in the new green centre.

Elsewhere 

  • McKenzie Health Sciences Centre, Canada: Depressed patients in sunny rooms recovered 15% faster than those in darker rooms.
  • Inha Hospital, Korea: A 41% decrease in average length of stay for gynaecology patients in sunlit rooms over patients in dull rooms.
  • In developing countries, the health benefits of investment in green buildings, specifically in measures and appliances for heating and cooking, can deliver better health outcomes.  UNEP estimates that the uptake of green buildings in developing economies could help reduce the 11% of human deaths resulting from poor indoor air quality each year.

Source: World Green Building Council 2012

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