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New report indicates growing demand for sustainability in construction contracts

A new report, supported by Association for Project Management (APM), has revealed that contractual demands for sustainable outcomes are becoming the norm in construction projects.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) published its Construction Contracts and Law Report on Thursday, 28 July. The report shares the findings of its survey of construction professionals on their experience of legal and contractual practice over the past 12 months. It highlights the latest trends and experiences when it comes to using construction contracts. APM helped promote the survey to its membership and online networks.

Key findings show that 43% of respondents were involved in one or more contracts that included ‘expected sustainable outcomes’ and 32% that included ‘measurable sustainability criteria’, indicating that contractual demands for sustainable outcomes are becoming increasingly normalised. However, only 7% of respondents had been involved in a contract that included the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Other key findings include:

  • 57% of respondents said they adopted collaboration techniques on some or all projects, with almost a quarter (22%) adopting collaboration techniques on all projects.
  • 63% said that collaboration techniques reduced the number of disputes, and 61% said they improved the delivery of the client’s objectives.
  • The proportion of respondents being involved in contractual disputes fell from 44% in 2015, to 33% in 2018, to 27% this year.

In addition to the survey findings, the report features articles from cross-sector experts, including one produced in collaboration between APM and ARUP, one of its corporate partners, about how the contracting landscape has changed post-pandemic.

Commenting on the findings, RIBA Executive Director Professional Knowledge and Standards, Adrian Dobson, yesterday said:

“We can expect to see demands for sustainable outcomes grow significantly over the coming years. From government departments and agencies, from project funders and financiers, and through tighter legislation and standards – the contractual expression of sustainable outcomes will become progressively mainstream. I am therefore encouraged to see growing appetite for contracts that include sustainability criteria. Across the industry, we need to be designing, specifying, procuring, managing and measuring sustainable buildings now. Sustainability isn’t just aspiration and altruism. It’s increasingly the bottom line.

“The strong adoption of collaborative techniques and declining number of disputes is also encouraging, particularly during such an unpredictable and volatile period, demonstrating the resilience of the sector. It also stresses the importance of construction contracts that facilitate collaborative behaviour and clearly delineate areas of responsibility.”

RIBA’s Construction Contracts and Law Report 2022 can be downloaded here.


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