Sustainability may be described as the long-term and responsible management of resources. Put simply, not to waste resources so as to extend the availability of resources for future generations.

A sustainability  designed development will be one which uses materials which have been recycled or if new materials are used, then these will be capable of being recycled in the future.

Materials for use in a sustainable project will be sourced as locally as costs can allow and thus involve as little energy use as possible to move them from source to site.

Materials will be selected to be renewable wherever possible - timber for example and will attempt to avoid the use of hydro carbon and toxic chemicals either in the manufacturing process or in the materials themselves.

Renewable technologies all count towards making a building sustainable. Photovoltaic panels for generating electricity from the sun, solar thermal panels for generating hot water from the sun, wind turbines for generating electricity from the wind, heat pumps for ‘uplifting’ energy from the heat in the ground, air or water.

Biomass fuel such as wood pellets, wood chip or logs also count towards sustainability.

Recovering rainwater for use in toilet cisterns and for watering the garden would feature in a sustainable building.


There are various ways of identifying a building as ‘sustainable’. The leading method for non residential buildings is BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).  See BREEAM for more details.


For residential buildings there is the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Peter Napier FRICS