Leaders of more than 50 major construction and property companies and groups have written to chancellor George Osborne to highlight the major economic opportunity offered by cutting carbon emissions from buildings.
In an open letter to Osborne published in the Daily Telegraph, the leaders of 55 organisations including Barratt Developments, E.ON, the British Council for Offices, the British Council for Shopping Centres and the British Property Federation said there was a “remarkable degree of consensus” on the business case for reducing emissions from the built environment.
The letter calls for measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings to be included in the government’s long-term economic plan. It states: “Building energy efficiency stimulates economic activity, strengthens our international competitiveness and creates thousands of jobs across the UK, mostly with small local businesses.
“It lowers costs for businesses and householders, and reduces the burden on the NHS. And as a more cost effective means of meeting demand than building new generating capacity, it is also crucial in safeguarding our energy security.”
The letter sets out four long-term policies the signatories believes are needed to provide clarity to the sector:
- Energy efficiency should be recognised as a national infrastructure priority. Infrastructure funds should be allocated to support a national programme to bring all UK homes up to EPC band C.
- The government must deliver on the commitment for all new homes and all new non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon from 2016 and 2019 respectively, with practical and robust rules for how developers can reduce any emissions that cannot be dealt with onsite through nearby or offsite measures.
- Minimum energy efficiency standards for the commercial and private-rented sector from 2018 need to be effectively enforced, with adequate support available for local authorities and exemptions kept to a minimum where practical.
- Outline how the government intends to meet the third and fourth carbon budgets, and introduce an ambitious fifth carbon budget, in line with the recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change.
Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, which coordinated the letter, said: “Business leaders already recognise the importance of bold energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets – not simply because they’re the right thing to do, but because they generate real commercial value for their businesses.”
The businesses have requested a meeting with Osborne to discuss the issue.