National energy policy on buildings could save £12 billion

8th July 2014

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Rachel Churchman

A new manifesto from the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) calls on the government to introduce a national strategy for energy use in buildings, claiming that reducing energy demand could deliver a net saving to the economy of around £12 billion a year - equivalent to an annual net saving of £189 for every UK citizen.

SEA says current energy policies focus on energy supply and not enough on energy demand in buildings. Using the government’s own pathways’ calculator, SEA has calculated that demand-side measures, such as energy efficiency and low carbon or renewable production in buildings, would cost £12 billion a year less than the government’s current plan.

The SEA manifesto, launched on 7 July, calls on all political parties to “build a new consensus on energy policy, with buildings at its heart.” Launching the manifesto, SEA chief executive Dave Sowden said; “There is a compelling case here to create a much stronger focus in energy policies on buildings. This will reduce waste, enhance energy security, reduce imported fossil fuels, lower people’s fuel bills and make a huge contribution to the UK economy.”

In addition to the need for a energy in buildings strategy, the SEA manifesto also calls for a major focus in the UK on the use of smart technology in buildings. Other measures include developing a new approach to home heating and rolling out a major infrastructure-based energy refurbishment of the UK’s buildings.

The SEA manifesto follows an earlier announcement from the European commission to adopt new proposals to ensure more information about the environmental performance of buildings is made publicly available. Research for the commission shows that 79% of households across Europe would take environmental aspects into account when renting or buying a property, but that this information is available for less than 1% of buildings across the EU.

The commission plans to develop an EU-wide set of indicators for assessing environmental performance in buildings that can be used by builders, architects, manufacturers and others to provide better information about environment and health aspects of buildings.

Michel Barnier, acting commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship said: "The construction sector should see today's proposals as a chance to innovate and attract new talent. New technologies offer big potential, not only for new houses, but also for renovating millions of existing buildings to make them highly energy efficient."

The commission says the first set of indicators should be available in 2–3 years.

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