Posted by Fabrick on 01 October 2019

This year, and for the first time, The Building Awards have created a building performance category. This offers people within the construction industry the opportunity to enter their building or product to win an award based solely on how effectively it works. The effectiveness of a building should be one of the key criteria, if not the most important. So why has it taken so long to recognise building performance in the form of a major industry award?

Constructing buildings that are more than just aesthetically pleasing is vital to not only the future of the industry, but the country. By having an award that celebrates the performance of a building rather than just the way it looks, the industry is being encouraged to create buildings that perform well. Just having the award shows that they are heading in the right direction and learning to champion the performance is an important step.

Performance should matter just as much as the appearance. Modern buildings are often created using the latest innovations and ideas within construction, while ones that are built en masse and to a smaller scale are not always afforded the same privileges. However, in most cases these innovations do get adopted by the mainstream when they mature and become affordable and practical.

With this in mind, we will now explore four reasons why the performance of a building is more important than ever before:

1. New Technology

There is so much new technology that we should be utilising. More and more manufacturers are thinking outside of the box and creating products that are sustainable and have the ability to increase the life-cycle of any new homes that are constructed. This needs to be celebrated, and the performance awards does just that. The award is not only for buildings, it also encourages the entry of products that enhance the longevity and sustainability of a building. Having something to strive for will encourage manufacturers to create more innovative products.

2. Net Zero Targets

Buildings need to be sustainable now and there is no way to avoid this. With the net zero targets set for 2050 we only have 30 years to make drastic changes and a lot of them lie within construction.

Nearly 40% UK greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the built environment and 14% from UK homes. By constructing buildings that perform more efficiently or achieve net zero targets themselves there is a much better chance of our country meeting this goal. The UK government has announced plans for the Future Homes Standard which would see the end of fossil fuel heating systems in new build homes by 2025. This bill would ensure that all buildings which are constructed produce as little carbon emissions as possible. Changes like this could mean that there will be more than one performance award in a few years’ time.

3. Fuel Poverty

Fuel poverty affects four million people in the UK. Drastic changes needs to be made to ensure buildings perform correctly and don’t leave people having to choose between heating their homes, and feeding their families. The building award encourages the construction of buildings that are carbon neutral or as close to that as currently possible. Having more homes that include innovations that allow them to heat themselves will cause a decrease in fuel poverty in the UK. The performance of buildings is vital to a decrease in fuel poverty.

4. Space and Resources

We cannot keep building the amount that we are. Eventually there will be no space left to build on and no resources left to use. So the buildings that we are constructing now have to be made to last. By using products that have been manufactured to ensure the longevity of a home, there will be less need to build new homes. We can be confident that the homes we have bought are made to a high standard with the ability to last us years and years. The throw-away mind-set of today’s society cannot afford to stretch into the home building sector. People need to buy homes with the view to staying in them, rather than moving somewhere shiny and new in a few years’ time. The only way we can ensure that this happens, is by selling homes that are high quality and sustainable. There will be less chance of dissatisfaction from the owners or occupants, if the homes meet these standards.

All of these changes will contribute to making sure that new homes and buildings are constructed with performance at the forefront. Construction is one of the oldest industries in the world, so to only now have an award that focusses on the importance of that is unbelievable. This should have happened years ago. It is great to see The Building Awards encourage and celebrate these innovators that are working to positively affect the way that we construct and, ultimately, live.

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