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Green professionals? A global survey of the role and the engagement of the chartered surveying profession

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In recent years sustainability has gained increased recognition as a new development paradigm for environmental, economic and societal systems of several countries worldwide. As a result, professional bodies have increasingly realised that sustainable development (SD) is not only a key issue for their work but also has implications for the wider relationship between professionals and society. The paper (which is based on research reported in the RICS ‘Green Profession’ report) analyses results from a major international online survey of 4,600 members of the UK Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) carried out in 2007, which concerns the extent to which the surveying profession uses relevant information, tools and techniques to achieve the key objectives of sustainable development (or sustainability). In addition, the study investigates the main drivers and barriers to the full engagement of the profession with sustainability issues. The results suggest that the most important sustainability issues are energy supply, land contamination, waste management and transport. At the global level, the most important drivers of sustainability are legal compliance, responsibility to protect the environment, and ethical and moral reasons, whilst the main barriers are lack of knowledge, expertise in the field and cost. Although sustainability is highly relevant to RICS members’ work, a lack of knowledge and lack of expertise are making it more difficult for sustainability tools and other information to be used effectively. As a result, the paper suggests the ways in which a ‘virtuous circle’ of sustainability knowledge and information can be created within the profession at both a professional and educational level, for example by integrating SD in research and teaching, as highlighted in a recent report by the UK Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on sustainable development.

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