Marginal expenditure: Design, energy and environment. Sandy Halliday.

This German SolarBau funding programme provided support for demonstration projects in energy saving. It consciously did not provide capital funding but instead supported design work.

Photo: Prisma Nuremberg.
Photo and text by permission Sandy Halliday abstract from her book: Sustainable Construction – second edition. 

Sandy Halliday ressursgruppe Greenbuilt

A review of completed demonstration projects concluded that in most cases the expenditure on energy conservation and environmental aspects was marginal.

Design value

Another aspect of the review related the demonstration projects to the “normal” building industry. The cost of construction and services were considered (exclusive of planning/design and the associated SolarBau funding).

The buildings were largely delivered at below-average costs and indicated that energy-related measures integrated at an early stage do not adversely impact on building cost. If this trend to comparable lower costs continued, then it would appear conclusive that:

  • Additional design input leads to savings in capital costs and/or
  • Additional costs are entirely compensated through lower costs elsewhere (shifted priorities), for example, in fit-out standards.

Germany and UK fee scales in construction

In Germany, fee scales are percentage linked to the construction costs. These are strictly controlled within agreed limits and have not fallen into the downward competitive spiral now evident in the United Kingdom.

These results supported the demand for a reform of the fee structure for architects and engineers in Germany to decouple the design fee from the capital cost.

Similar arguments have been made about costs of building services in the United Kingdom.

Some practices claim to operate on a percentage of building rather than on services costs with incentive bonuses to design out services.

However, there has been little movement on the issue on the part of the professional bodies.

In the United Kingdom there are no incentives currently operating to encourage more design input at the early stages.

Prisma Nuremburg. Sandy Halliday

Prisma Nuremburg. Sandy Halliday

Read: Chris Butters: Circular Ecodesign, Materials and the Value Chain (



Book: Sustainable construction second edition. Sandy Halliday.-2019  page 88

Book Sustainable Construction 2nd edition by Sandy Halliday

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