Brazil came second and the UK took third place in the 2009 RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) Global Zero Carbon Capacity Index written by professor Yvonne Rydin, co-director of the University College London’s Environment Institute.

Released today (July 19) and based on International Energy Agency (IEA) data, the index covers 34 countries around the world and aims to measure the progress of countries towards creating zero carbon built environments (following a pilot last year).

The index, launched in a pilot form last year with Norway topping the charts then too, measures energy efficiency in households, offices and domestic transport as well as investment in renewable energy and introduction of policy packages to reduce carbon consumption within the built environment.

The UK rose from fourth in last year’s index largely due to a solid array of policies, including strategies for zero-carbon house building, the Code for Sustainable Homes, changed building regulations and new spatial planning approaches.

However, professor Rydin says the UK still needs to ‘take action’ on residential energy efficiency and to invest further in renewable energy sources.

And, tackle the ‘poor standard’ of energy efficiency of the existing building stock is keeping energy consumption higher than it needs to be and the share of renewable energy is only just above 2% of total primary energy supply.

She said: “It is vitally important all those involved with the built environment take action to reduce carbon emissions.

“This is an urgent responsibility for those building new developments as well as those owning, managing and occupier existing ones.

“Our homes, shops, offices, factories and leisure centres all need to make their contribution to the climate change agenda.”

The countries to have improved the most over 2008-9 are the Slovak Republic, France, Germany and USA, although the improvement for the USA is less than for the other three countries.

Luke Walsh

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