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Raynsford reinforces environmental pledge

ENVIRONMENTAL AND sustainability performance indicators will be included in the measurement of the Egan-inspired demonstration projects, the Government confirmed this week.

Speaking at the launch of the Government's Construction Best Practice Programme, construction minister Nick Raynsford hit back at recent claims by environmental guru Jonathan Porritt that Sir John Egan's Rethinking construction report had ignored sustainability (NCE 19 November).

'(Jonathan Porritt) cannot have read the Egan report', said Raynsford. 'Anyone that is intelligent about these matters would realise that eliminating waste and improving efficiency is key to sustainability.'

During his speech to the CBPP conference, Raynsford insisted that both he and the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had made clear that 'sustainability was an essential and complementary part of the new construction culture which we want to see come about.'

'Promoting greater sustainability in the industry will be an important part of what both the [Egan implementation group] Movement for Innovation and the best practice programme will be aiming to achieve,' he said.

This view was backed by the head of the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions' construction directorate John Hobson. When asked by a delegate to explain why Egan - 'the most important document for construction for a decade' - had failed to refer to sustainability, he said: 'Rethinking construction is not written in green language but does imply green actions. I like to think of efficiency and sustainability as two sides of the same coin.'

He promised that sustainability key performance indicators would be published in the New Year along with other measures of performance.

However, Hobson insisted: 'I'm not interested in sustainability unless it is good for a firm's profitability. It is very much open to practical ideas from people out there doing it. We need to develop sustainability performance indicators but I need some help working them out.' He added: 'It's a super subject for academics to write reports about but actually making it happen is very difficult and measuring it is even harder.'

(see Commentary page 16)

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