Despite spending some £3 billion of tax-payers money on environmentally-friendly refurbishments, the NAO research showed that 80 per cent of government buildings would miss pre-set targets for sustainability. Several departments are also failing to carry out environmental assessments.
Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said that his advice to the government two years ago on the need to consider a building's lifetime costs and impacts had gone unheeded:
'Today’s report highlights a continuing failure by departments to consider the long-term value of sustainability in their new builds and refurbishments. This is particularly disappointing given the importance of sustainability in promoting a deeper understanding of value for money,' he said.
The report's authors suggest that one reason for the continued failings is muddled policy towards improving building standards, the small scale of many of the projects, and a misplaced perception of a conflict between sustainability and value for money.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist April 2007