Government can't ignore built environment in low carbon economy drive

Programmes to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings must be fast tracked if Government wants to achieve the low carbon economic recovery it claims to support.

Greening transport is important but buildings should not be ignored

Greening transport is important but buildings should not be ignored

This is the view of trade association the UK Green Building Council, which has spoken of its disappointment at the lack of even a passing mention of the built environment in the Prime Minister's latest round of comments on the green recovery.

While Gordon Brown told journalists last week of Government plans to support plans to support the market for electric vehicles and other incentives for industry to improve its environmental performance, the construction sector was left off the list.

Environmental targets for new build do exist and there are financial packages in the pipeline to support refurbishment projects that will improve the performance of existing buildings but the UKGBC says these will not come into effect soon enough.

"Government is in danger of missing an open goal," said a statement from the trade body.

"If the PM really wants to see green cities the most obvious place to start is with our homes and buildings - collectively responsible for almost 45% of CO2 emissions in the UK.

"Nick Stern's latest report shows that the best measures to both combat climate change and provide economic benefit are all related to energy efficiency in homes and buildings: upgrading the fabric; replacing the boiler; low energy lighting and appliances.

"This won't necessarily need a huge amount of Government spending. Energy efficiency is cost-effective in the long run, but the upfront cost is often off-putting to householders, owners and occupiers.

"Therefore Government has a key role to play in bringing forward new ways to help fund that initial upfront cost, recouping the capital over a number of years."

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is looking at such schemes from 2012 onwards and the Conservatives are committed to a similar approach.

Paul King, chief executive at the UKGBC, claims that the industry cannot wait that long.

"The Budget should send a clear signal that our built environment should be at the heart of a low-carbon recovery and bring forward measures to help householders and businesses invest in energy efficiency now," he said.

Sam Bond



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