Around this time of year, many organisations and individuals publish or communicate predictions for the coming year. I’ve decided to have a go.
Here are my top five predictions, good, bad and in no particular order, for 2015.
1. There will be widespread recognition that sustainability extends beyond environmental performance
In 2014, the World Green Building Council published Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices – The next chapter for green building. (http://www.worldgbc.org/activities/health-wellbeing-productivity-offices/) This excellent piece of work highlights that employees account for 90% of business costs and that efforts to improve employee health and productivity through green buildings can have a huge financial implication. The report goes on to propose a high level framework for measuring organisational performance outcomes and relating these back to physical features of buildings. However, it also recognises that further work is needed in this area.
Long term – the way we work will continue to evolve – the influence of sustainability on building design and refurbishment will continue to grow!
2. 2015 will be a positive year for change – the Sustainability Agenda will progress
In 2015 business will continue to take the lead, pushing innovation and improvement (certainly on environmental performance), whilst the regulatory piece of the jigsaw gets stuck down the back of the sofa only to be found (hopefully) after the general election. Continued dithering over proposed MEES regulations, for example.
In the business world, further work will be needed to address the social aspects of sustainability (see 5).
3. However, Energy market uncertainty will have a negative impact on the pace of change
At the time of writing, the price of Brent crude oil had fallen to a new five-and-a-half year low of $50 per barrel, its lowest level since May 2009. Scholarly articles state that a combination of oversupply and weak demand will cause prices to fall further. This may be great for prices at the pump, however, it may have a negative impact on progressive sustainability initiatives. Falling fuel prices will (at least temporarily) slow the uptake of renewables. Furthermore, closer to home, it will impact on the ability of consultants accurately complete Life Cycle Cost Assessments of Sustainability Improvements.
4. Technological solutions and innovation will gather pace. The desirability of innovative and sustainable technology will continue to grow
Whilst in a post-Christmas dinner daze, slumped in front of the TV, this advert woke me up: BMW i8 Curiosity Advert
5. Ethical policies of large corporates and high profile organisations will come under increasing scrutiny – at home as well as abroad
In the latter part of 2014, several high profile businesses faced criticism for employment and supply chain policies.
In December, poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products was discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation.
Closer to home, it was interesting to read that not all staff at premier league football clubs are well paid. So far, only one club in the top flight of English football (Chelsea) has agreed to pay all staff the living wage. A cross party group of MPs has signed an early day motion calling on all Premier League clubs to sign up to the minimum wage. It is perhaps ironic that whilst 1000 companies are now committed to paying the living wage, only three government departments (Department for Energy and Climate Change, Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Culture Media and Sport) have pledged to ensure that contractors working on their behalf are paid the living wage.
Media criticism will drive positive change, slowly!
And finally, one for good luck. My daughter is 15 months old now. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I will get more sleep in 2015 (please Tilly)!!!
I will review at the end of 2015 to see how close I got!