Study shows sustainable buildings are becoming mainstream – but still low awareness of the benefits

Ramboll has launched its Sustainable Buildings Market Study (SBMS), revealing insights from architects, developers, contractors and investors across the UK and Scandinavia on sustainable development.

Providing market insight, the study aims to bridge the knowledge gap and provide actionable insights for investors, contractors and users of sustainable buildings.

Uncertainty around cost and benefits

The findings show that the most important trends driving sustainable building activity are ’Life Cycle Thinking’ (71%), Health and Wellbeing (58%) and Carbon Neutrality (53%).

According to 64% of respondents, sustainability features increase the value of a property. But whilst the findings show that sustainable buildings are becoming more mainstream it confirmed there is a lack of clarity on the costs and benefits of sustainable buildings.

When asked if sustainable buildings are a good investment, close to 50% of all respondents said they have little or no insight into whether sustainable buildings cost more to build, if they have reduced operational cost or if they trade at a premium. 

Technology trends

On-site renewable energy and distributed energy solutions such as solar panels, district heating and the provision of energy storage are one of the biggest trends according to 49% of participants, while using new materials to increase sustainability and reduce carbon emissions is also seen to have a large potential. Indoor air quality, lighting and thermal comfort were rated as the most important wellbeing and health-related factors in buildings.

Rikke Bjerregaard Orry, Ramboll’s Group Sustainability Director for buildings, said “We anticipate an increasing interest from future generations in leading sustainable lifestyles, minimising their personal carbon footprint and working for companies that share their values and operate sustainably. Sustainable buildings tap into this trend and will increasingly become an identity marker for companies striving to make a difference.”