Necessity mother of invention for green building

Home builders have displayed more innovation in the past three years than they have in the three preceding centuries as they rise to the challenge of cutting carbon emissions.

This was the conclusion of Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, as he delivered an upbeat address to delegates at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum’s seminar on zero carbon buildings this week.

He said that the Government’s decision to set a deadline for zero carbon homes had been a brave one and had led to a sea change in the way the industry looked at emissions.

Where before there had previously been a series of gradual increments to steadily improve energy efficiency over time, this had made people think about what the eventual aim was instead.

He said that buildings represent the biggest and lowest hanging fruit when it comes to meeting national carbon targets and that the construction industry as a whole had an appetite for working towards zero carbon buildings and recognised the necessity of doing so.

The current emphasis on new build was needed, he said, but refurbishment could not be ignored.

“It’s essential that we do continue to focus on new buildings because in a sense we have to stop the rot and it’s going to be a lot more difficult and a lot more expensive to come back and do it later.”

He said progress so far had been impressive but warned against weak enforcement and said there was no point in congratulating ourselves for setting targets that were not then met.

“On the one hand it’s great that we’re catching up [with more progressive countries in Europe] and setting these targets, but we’re completely deceiving ourselves if we’re not then enforcing these standards and regulations.”

Sam Bond

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