Green buildings primed to assist Government with national policies

The construction and property industry is "eager" to work with the UK Government to boost housebuilding standards, improve economic growth and help achieve binding carbon targets, but this will only be possible if an array of new policies are introduced.

That is the key finding of a new report from the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), which will be released today (28 February). The report states that the construction sector can play a prominent role across numerous Governmental reforms, including the recently-published Industrial Strategy, the Housing White Paper, the Emissions Reduction Plan and the UK Air Quality Plan.

While the UK-GBC remains adamant that the sector is willing to help and consult on the aforementioned policies, ability to do so will depend on the number of enabling measures introduced. The report implored the Government to re-establish a “zero-carbon” standard – which was scrapped last year – for buildings from 2020 onwards, as well as setting long-term incremental targets to boost home energy standards.

UK-GBC’s chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said: “UK-GBC is uniquely placed to help the Government tackle some of its key challenges in close partnership and collaboration with the built environment industry. Through publishing this report, 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.”

Cohesive partnerships

The report notes that four out of five homes in 2050 will have been built already. In order to boost energy efficiency, and comply with national carbon reduction targets which currently stretch through to 2032, more than 25 million homes will need refurbishing to exemplary standards.

But, the Government’s decisions to scrap the Green Deal scheme for housebuilders and building owners has left building standards in a state of flux. To drive efficiency through the sector, the report calls on companies to work with Government to permanently reduce household energy bills and fuel poverty, create more than 100,000 jobs through energy efficiency measures and deliver one million homes through rapid and sustainable building practices.

The Prime Minister’s Policy Board chair and MP George Freeman is attending a UK-GBC launch event later on today. Freeman is expected to note how the report will allow Government departments to “focus” on the benefits of working cohesively with the private sector on homebuilding.

“The construction and property industry clearly plays a key role in helping the Government to unlock the economic and social potential from our built environment,” Freeman will say. “This report from the UK Green Building Council will help to ensure that the Government works cohesively across all Departments to focus on the clear benefits to society from building efficient sustainable homes for everyone as we continue to grow our dynamic modern economy.”

The UK-GBC has already moved to streamline the introduction of “cohesive” partnerships, through the launch of its Innovation Lab workshops. The nine-month programme brings private sector firms, start-ups and academia together to uncover current and future challenges related to sustainability and building practices.

Matt Mace

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