Media Release: HIE pledges to take a lead in sustainable construction

THIS week heralded a new generation of energy-efficient construction when Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) launched its Sustainable Construction Plan.

Six months ago, HIE announced its intention to set itself targets in order to achieve a more sustainable property portfolio. This week (Tuesday November 13) these targets were delivered for consideration by HIE board members during their meeting at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye.

Keith Bryers, HIE’s head of property and infrastructure, said: “We define sustainable construction to be, ‘development of the built environment which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

“It comprises far more than just energy and ecological issues. In line with the UK and Scottish Governments’ strategies, it also places importance on creating a ‘strong, healthy and just society’, a sustainable economy, good governance and the sound use of science in achieving these aims.”

HIE’s targets are based on a report carried out for the agency by Synergie Scotland Ltd, which reveals that the buildings in which we live and work contribute around 50 per cent of the UK’s Co2 emissions. Construction puts a demand on global resources and the rapacious appetite for more buildings reduces mineral resources, biodiversity, natural vegetation and ‘greenfield’ land. The construction industry is the single largest contributor to UK waste, producing around 35 per cent of landfill.

In its efforts to balance the need for economic growth with the requirement to limit degradation of the environment, HIE plans to rate its progress according to the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

Its plan sets out the following aims:

* For the first three years after introduction HIE aims to achieve BREEAM ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ ratings on the majority of all new build property with all new buildings achieving this from 2010.

* From April 2008, HIE will introduce an energy savings strategy, aimed at reducing energy usage in HIE-owned premises, mainly through working with occupiers.

* From April 2008, HIE will introduce measures to accommodate the requirements of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

* From October 2008, HIE will further investigate the introduction of whole life costing principles to its new build projects.

* From 2012 onwards all HIE’s new build projects will be ‘zero-carbon’.

* By 2015 HIE will improve the average energy performance of buildings rating within its estate by two rating grades, against a 2008 baseline.

The policy sets out how these aims will be met through a range of factors including management of construction, energy and micro-renewables, transport, water conservation, materials, land use, pollution, skills, facilities management and design for health and well-being.

Sandy Cumming, HIE’s chief executive, commended the policy to his board, saying: “The world-rated attractiveness of our region’s natural environment increasingly encourages people to visit and work here and is attracting new people to the area.

“The Highlands and Islands are in a prime position to become an exemplar sustainable economy and, in tandem with other public agencies, the responsibility falls on HIE as an aspiring sustainable development agency to offer leadership and move forward with higher standards that will further promote the area.

“Our key settlements should act as gateways to the area, combining modernity, tradition and distinctiveness. We have many great buildings of which we can be proud: Horizon Scotland in Forres; the Centre for Health Science in Inverness; SNH’s new headquarters in Inverness and the Forestry Commission’s new offices in Smithton, to name a few.

“However, whilst these projects have raised the bar, we must now build upon their success. In this policy we place a strategic challenge before the construction sector to work with us in reaping the benefits of these new standards and demonstrating that the Highlands and Islands can be an exemplar of more sustainable living.”

PRESS RELEASE issued by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. You too can post media releases (aka story ideas for journalists) on For more information, email here.

Contact: Caroline Rham
Phone: 01463 244244