Building energy efficiency needs new policy, industry says

28th February 2017

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Steve Roberts

The construction and property industry could help solve key social and economic challenges by improving the energy efficiency of buildings, according to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

The industry body has urged the government to introduce new policies on energy efficiency to improve public health, bring down energy bills, stimulate economic productivity, provide skilled jobs and help achieve the UK’s carbon reduction targets.

The UKGBC has set out policy recommendations in a report, published today. These include providing businesses with certainty so they invest in innovation and skills, and encouraging the public sector to lead on creating high-quality, sustainable buildings as a way driving up standards across the country. Other recommendations: adopting a long-term approach to the contribution of a development to a community and allowing industry the flexibility to identify the best approaches to delivery, avoiding ‘red tape’.

Speaking at the launch of the report, George Freeman, Conservative MP for Mid-Norfolk and chair of the prime minister’s policy board, said that the government should work cohesively across all departments to focus on the benefits to society from building efficient homes.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UKGBC, said: ‘We are launching a new conversation with policy-makers in pursuit of a shared vision in which the places we live and work can support multiple economic, social and environmental priorities; ultimately: building places that work for everyone.’

Case studies outlined in the report include:

  • a resource efficiency programme by developer Land Securities across 23 commercial and retail sites around the UK, saving energy worth £940,000 a year;
  • the redevelopment of a school in Wolverhampton using Passivhaus techniques to maximise natural light and ventilation, which reduced energy costs to around £5,000 a year compared with average costs of £45,000 for an equivalent-sized school built to comply with current building regulations;
  • savings of £139 m to the government estate between 2010 and 2015 by following departmental building efficiency policies; and
  • reducing heating demand in a council estate in Portsmouth by 90%.

The government has not produced new policy on energy efficiency since scrapping the Green Deal energy efficiency retrofit programme and the zero carbon homes target for newbuild. It commissioned an independent study on retrofitting energy efficiency in buildings, which reported in December.


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