Our poll of 500 building industry professionals suggests that, while there is still considerable scepticism about the drive to achieve Zero Carbon, the vast majority have accepted the need to build more sustainability and are committed to doing so.
With no absolute direction from government, it is hardly surprising that 81% of respondents did not believe that there is currently any workable definition of Zero Carbon and it is a logical follow-on that 75% do not believe it will be possible to meet the 2016 target for Zero Carbon houses.
It is also clear that the debate about sustainable homes needs to move on from a focus purely on new build, with 70% believing that more attention should be given to upgrading the vast majority of buildings that already exist.
In the light of the intense debate about the cost of building to ever higher standards of efficiency, it is interesting that the majority of respondents (64%) do not feel that costs will be a deterrent to buyers. Even in the private housebuilding sector, where price sensitivity is most acute, only 42% think that the cost will be a real issue.
In the context of the global debate about the issue of climate change and continued high profile discussion on national responses to it, the building industry has clearly made up its mind. The overwhelming majority of our respondents (75%) declare that they would aim to build more sustainably, even if there were no legislation compelling them to do so.
In taking this stance, our professionals clearly see themselves as thought-leaders, since a considerably smaller number believe that the message has got through to the general population. Only 51% believe that energy efficiency is currently a really important issue for new house buyers.
A significant message that the legislators should perhaps listen to, is that while there is clearly a strong commitment to improving the sustainability of buildings, there remains a high degree of scepticism about the drive to achieve Zero Carbon. Over half our respondents (52%) remain unconvinced about the need to achieve this particular goal – suggesting that a more balanced objective, aimed at improving the performance of existing as well as new buildings, would ultimately achieve the desired reduction in carbon emissions more effectively.