In Europe, 90% of our daily lives are spent indoors and buildings are responsible for more than 40 percent of global energy usage, and as much as one third of greenhouse gas emissions.

Based on the evidence gathered, Ramboll’s Sustainable Buildings Market Study (SBMS) presents a business case for sustainable buildings. It delivers key findings about designing, constructing and operating buildings that will improve environmental sustainability for buildings and internal environments for people.

Ramboll’s SBMS helps to bridge the knowledge gap and provides actionable insights for investors, contractors and users of sustainable buildings.

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Oodi Helsinki Library. Photo: Kuvio

Report highlights

  • Two-thirds of building owners and investors state sustainability measures increase property value
  • Yet 41% of respondents don’t know how much higher a rental yield can be commanded for a sustainable building and 37% don’t know how much higher the property value is  
  • Life Cycle Thinking, Health & Wellbeing and Carbon Neutrality were identified as the three most important trends, at 71%, 58% and 53% respectively 
  • 49% rated on-site renewable energy as the most important construction technology, followed by BIM at 47%
  • 'Client, tenant or other stakeholder requirement’, ‘Enhancement of building performance’ and ‘Improved quality’ were the most important drivers for using environmental certification schemes at 60%, 51% and 44% 
  • 100% of respondents were engaged in sustainable projects compared to 95% in 2017 57% of respondents state that half their future projects would be sustainable.

Uncertainty remains on the value of sustainable buildings

Whilst the findings show that sustainable buildings are becoming more mainstream, it also confirms 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 have little or no insight if sustainable buildings cost more to build, if they have reduced operational cost or if they trade at a premium. It is clear there is a lack of hard evidence to show whether sustainable buildings yield a positive return on investment. Addressing this knowledge gap will be vital for accelerating the uptake of sustainable buildings.

Life Cycle Thinking rated the most important trend in sustainability

The study reveals the latest trends for the sector, with Life Cycle Thinking being the most important trend (71%), followed by Health & Wellbeing (58%) and Carbon Neutrality (53%).

Certification schemes

The SBMS highlighted that ‘Client, tenant or other stakeholder requirement’ (60%), ‘Enhancement of building performance’ (51%) and ‘Improved quality’ (44%) were the most important criteria in their decision to use environmental certification schemes, yet 60% sited certification being ’too expensive/time consuming’ as the key reason for not undertaking environmental certification. 

Future trends

Further trends in the report highlighted digitalisation, innovative technologies and new construction techniques that carry the promise of improving sustainability and efficiency across the entire value chain. According to respondents, wider use of Building Information Models (BIM) - not only in the design phase, but also in the operational phase and at the end-of-life-stage of a building can be expected.

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About the Sustainable Buildings Market Study

Ramboll’s Sustainable Buildings Market Study (previously known as the Green Market Study) was completed by 405 respondents including architects, developers, contractors and investors from across the UK, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. This is the 6th edition of the study but the first to include respondents from the UK. In this survey, a sustainable building is defined as a building where sustainability issues are emphasised throughout the building life cycle.