Within the engineering practice there has been an increasing focus on the environmental impact of new buildings, with the construction sector contributing to a massive 38% of the total global emissions (in 2019). This has led to the introduction of LEED and BREEAM certification to ensure these buildings are focused on their environmental impact. However, these certification schemes are not perfect.
Research has shown that LEED certified buildings can often be less energy efficient than a non-certified case; this is due to the flawed marking scheme for unweighted token environmental changes to construction. The flaws are further highlighted by supplying additional points for companies hiring LEED advisors; one study found that 99.7% of all successful applications used this to their advantage. Further, after the building has achieved its certification, any negative changes can be implemented without affecting their environmental rating.
Our team proposes a replacement of the certification process that eliminates the exclusivity of these existing certifications. A more accessible certification process will allow smaller businesses an opportunity to become part of a globally responsible construction sector by encouraging the design of more environmentally friendly buildings. Addressing smaller companies will create a more equitable playing field in the construction sector. This certification will focus on and highlight companies actively being more sustainable throughout a building’s full lifecycle, rather than using gestures that do not genuinely reduce a company’s emissions.
Rather than giving large tax breaks to companies that have certifications, companies that don’t meet the criteria should be taxed. The tax could be based on a company’s total emissions, thus encouraging larger companies to further reduce their emissions, and avoiding small companies being disproportionately affected. This tax can then be used locally to fund regenerative schemes in deprived areas.