Lack of action on building controls means missed emissions target

Government inertia over building energy controls will mean the UK misses its own targets for carbon emissions reduction, a leading construction expert has warned.

Speaking at the NEMEX Conference in Birmingham, Dr David Strong, Managing Director of BRE Environment, warned delegates that the government was a long way from fulfilling its obligations towards energy performance in buildings.

"Revising Part L of the building regulations, and implementation of the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD) is required to deliver 25% of the UK Climate Change Plan on carbon reduction target by 2010," he said.

"However, a lack of response from the ODPM on this makes the original timetable unlikely to be met."

Buildings currently account for nearly 50% of all UK CO2 emissions, as well as around 35% of the country's total waste. To counter this, all EU member states are required to implement the EPBD by the end of 2005.

This will set minimum energy performance standards for all new and existing buildings, thoroughly reducing their emissions contributions.

A labelling scheme will be introduced, akin to the system on domestic white goods, which will display the energy rating of the building, allowing customers to make far more informed choices about where to live, and development authorities the power to reject plans which don't meet strict standards.

However, despite knowing about the upcoming legislation for several years, Dr Strong warned that the government had "gone silent" on the issue, so the preliminary work toward implementation, such as training for building inspectors, had stalled.

He said that the domestic white goods labelling had resulted in demonstrably better products at no greater cost and that there was every reason to believe this would be the case with building stock, providing a massive market boost for energy efficient goods and materials in the building sector.

He also warned about the presence of "rogue traders" in the sector, offering building inspections ahead of implementation.

"There is no agreed methodology for building inspections as yet," he told delegates, "so any inspections will only have to be redone."

Any delegates hoping for seriously strict environmental standards were also given a stark warning as to the government's attitude toward taking on the building sector.

"The standards we introduce for EPBD are likely to be lower than they were in Canada 30 years ago," he said.

By David Hopkins



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