CEnv Blog | Why Should CIOB members and Fellows Become a Chartered Environmentalist?
"Attaining Chartered Environmentalist status through CIOB, and therefore registration with the Society for the Environment, confers upon construction professionals the only nationally recognised and respected professional qualification to demonstrate our environmental credentials. In many respects, it is the only award, equivalent to a post-graduate qualification, which defines our pre-eminence in all aspects of sustainable construction, together with good care and conduct of the environment. This is especially so when it comes to being able to demonstrate excellence and competence to clients and society in general."
A ‘THOUGHT PIECE’ BY STEPHEN WIELEBSKI – CIOB CHARTERED ENVIRONMENTALIST PANEL CHAIR
This is a question I have often been asked and yet the answer is quite simple. From project conception, through to eventual post-completion building use, the construction industry leaves an indelible footprint on the built environment. More importantly, the decisions made throughout the design and project delivery process have a direct and lasting consequence on the future wellbeing of our environment.
To put the construction industry, (inclusive of house building) into some form of perspective, the annual contribution to the UK economy is around £110 billion – circa 7% of national GDP – not an insignificant contribution. As a result, the task(s) and opportunities confronting all those involved in construction, especially when it comes to making a positive and lasting contribution to environmental sustainability, are profoundly influential.
With the coming into force of the Environment Act 2021, Construction Industry influence will gain even greater momentum and therefore added significance. Moreover, this fundamental and far-reaching change in UK legislation has brought into sharper focus the importance of CIOB Members and Fellows being able to demonstrate to clients, and society in general, that we have the leadership, and informed experience that is so essential to delivering environmentally sustainable construction solutions.
That said, what differentiates CIOB and its members? The answer is again simple. It is the all-inclusive diversity of CIOB membership involved in all construction typologies. Conceivably, this is the greatest asset within CIOB membership. Whether Archaeologist, Architect, Engineer, Quantity Surveyor, Contracts Manager, Site Manager, Facilities Manager, Academic or Health, Safety and Environment Manager, CIOB membership embraces these and other crucial disciplines. Moreover, it is the accumulated knowledge, experience, and skill sets that CIOB members possess, and which remains an intrinsic part of the Institute’s DNA, that positions CIOB members as an effective catalyst for positive and lasting environmental change.
Attaining Chartered Environmentalist status through CIOB, and therefore registration with the Society for the Environment, confers upon construction professionals the only nationally recognised and respected professional qualification to demonstrate our environmental credentials. In many respects, it is the only award, equivalent to a post-graduate qualification, which defines our pre-eminence in all aspects of sustainable construction, together with good care and conduct of the environment. This is especially so when it comes to being able to demonstrate excellence and competence to clients and society in general.
That said, environmental considerations and the management thereof is not a new concept for CIOB – it has merely gone through a metamorphosis to be redefined, in a modern-day context as environmental sustainability. Materials and Environmental Science, known more colloquially these days as Building Physics has always been a fundamental part of the CIOB learning curriculum, as I found as fa back as 1973/74.
As we enter 2022 and continue to reflect upon the Climate Change Committee’s most recent report and recommendations, the UK Construction Industry will continue to play a crucial part in the delivery of environmental sustainability. Most importantly, there is a perceptible degree of unity in what must be done to better preserve and enhance our environmental inheritance. As a result, the built environment and the skills required to deliver on a series of crystallised Government objectives remains at the forefront of CIOB member continued professional development. Indeed, this must be a standing commitment for all those involved in the built environment, irrespective of which professional body or institution they may be a member of.
To reinforce just how important the part construction will play, we need look no further than the changes in legislation and guidance that will affect the construction industry from hereon. Moreover, the Government’s Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy will also set us on a course to decarbonise construction in general – a strategy that will continue to expose those involved in construction to a number of challenges and potential conflicts that only effective leadership will resolve.
In July 2021, the Environment Agency introduced revised the climate change allowances. These were to be applied to all Strategic Flood Risk Assessments, together with project specific flood risk assessments. These changes will have significant repercussions for the Development Community, and yes, it will present us with challenges and conflict when considering local plan land-use allocations and project specific mitigation measures. But we shouldn’t be deterred, we have the necessary experience and skills to deliver environmentally sustainable solutions.
Next year will herald the onset of significant changes to the Building Regulations for example, Parts L/F and which are expected to come into force in June 2022. Likewise, the Government declared policy in terms of the accompanying Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard. These revisions constitute fundamental change, but this is not the end of the evolution, merely the start – electric vehicle charging (a new Part ‘S’ of the Building Regulations) will likely become a mandatory requirement in all new homes from June 2022 , thereby raising many questions about the ability of the energy grid to deliver. And we should not lose sight of the fact that wastewater nutrient and water neutrality are fundamental issues affecting many new construction projects in parts of England and Wales. If we throw into the mix of ensuing regulatory reform the likelihood of biodiversity net gain for all projects being introduced will present those involved in construction with further challenges. Likewise, how we achieve the Future Homes Standard in addition to meeting the challenges arising from the likely revision to Part ‘M’ of the Building Regulations governing accessibility.
Passion for the environment accompanied by strong leadership qualities will be essential attributes for anyone involved in construction from hereon. Moreover, sustainable construction need not necessarily result in increased construction cost, but effective leadership in the pursuit of environmental sustainability will be achieved if those with the requisite experience, knowledge and skills are allowed to become an integral part of corporate boards. A role that many CIOB Members and Fellows who become Chartered Environmentalists are more than adequately equipped for.
The future of construction could not be in a better position to promote environmentally sustainable solutions whether as part of peer group collaborative working or when engaging with clients etc. Chartered Environmentalists who have the requisite skills, experience and leadership qualities will make a positive and lasting difference. This underscores the fundamental reason why all those involved in construction should aspire to have Chartered Environmentalist status conferred upon them – the environment is our primary focus from hereon.
Author: Stephen Wielebski CEnv; C Build E; MSc(Dist); FCIOB; FCABE; MIET: ACIArb; FRSA
Principal Partner – W A Consultancy Limited.
Biography: Stephen Wielebski first joined the CIOB in 1973 and was awarded Chartered Environmentalist status in 2006. From 2007 onwards he has played an integral part in conferring Chartered Environmentalist status on over 300 CIOB Members and Fellows all of whom have come from an eclectic range of construction professionals. Currently an Honorary Life Member of CIOB, Stephen’s background is in civil engineering, and he hold a Master of Science Degree, with distinction, in Environmental Geotechnology in addition to full membership of other professional institutions involved in construction.