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Green building standard agreed

Construction and property leaders today agreed to develop a global index for green buildings for comparison, measurement and benchmarking.

Chaired by British Property Federation (BPF) chief executive Liz Peace, the meeting included 20 chiefs from the UK, Japan, USA, Germany, Italy, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

Peace, believes the initial focus should be on key areas such as energy, water, waste and transport.

She said: "Those are the hard measures. There was a variety of opinion on softer measures on harder to measure areas, such as how community friendly a building is or how accessible it is for the disabled.

"There's nothing to stop individual countries adding their own soft measures, but we first need to agree a core set of standards. UK companies are hugely keen to develop an international standard. Heads of companies are bemused and confused and just want clarity."

She admitted that property firms' lie mainly with the values of their assets. "They want clarity for that exact reason – that it would help establish value. It takes years for aspects of the value to feed through into the overall picture, but I have no doubt that we'll see an impact particularly across Europe, because of EU legislation like the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive, where values change because of reporting on sustainability. But then good buildings are worth more than bad ones, that’s a fact of life."

Gualtiero Tamburini, head of Assoimmobiliare, said: "All we've experienced so far is numbers than mean nothing. Without a system you cannot compare. Once we have that, we can go to our regional governments and then to the EU with a firm method for dealing with sustainability."

Peace said world-wide acceptance was, "not going to be quick, but if we can get a formal agreement that each country will contribute their industries’ views, then it would be a great achievement and we would definitely have something to show by next MIPIM."

William Kisler, president of the Urban Land Institute, said: "The industry in the USA is reaching out globally and knows that we cannot have separate national standards to sustainability, so being able to measure and compare in a consistent way is vital.

"I think our members – 80% of our 42,000 members are in the USA – are increasingly global and are seeing different standards across Europe, Asia and Australia and they are keen to converge those standards. Once we’ve agreed on a common set of principles, the rest will be easy. When you come to an agreement, some countries will have a much harder time implementing and paying for the changes."

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