Socio-Economic Impact

UKGBC’s vision for a sustainable built environment is one that creates long-term value for society and improves quality of life.

Buildings provide people with basic shelter and security. The UK is currently failing to provide affordable and decent housing for everyone. House prices keep rising while weekly earnings remain stagnant. There is not enough supply to meet the demand from growing urban populations, and few new homes are affordable so those on lower incomes are most affected. Existing social housing is often in disrepair and too expensive to heat.

The housing market itself drives inequality, as the poorest pay disproportionally more than those on higher incomes for their housing costs. Joseph Rowntree Foundation attributes the rise in working poor to the housing crisis, particularly the high costs and insecurity in the private rented sector[1]. This inequality is further reflected in the under occupation of owner occupier homes by older generations, while overcrowding in social housing is rising. If buildings were better utilised, we could provide for the needs of more people, and use materials more efficiently.

The built environment is the framework within which we work and play, access key services and build relationships. The way in which it is planned and delivered has a fundamental impact on access to economic opportunities, sense of community, and overall quality of life. Progressive developers recognise the value in high quality placemaking and are attempting to quantify the socio-economic impact of major projects.

The built environment industry presents an opportunity to provide decent jobs and to cultivate new skills. The 2016 Farmer Review highlighted the urgent need for the construction sector to modernise and address its growing skills gap. Yet investment in research and development by the construction sector is exceptionally low, especially when compared to other industries. Diversity in the construction workforce is also very low.