Government must send a clear signal on energy efficiency to property sector (UK)

The UK Green Building Council today (Friday) urged government to phase out the least energy efficient buildings by 2020 and to roll out Display Energy Certificates (DECs), which give an A-G rating on energy use, to all commercial buildings immediately. Government recently announced it would examine the possibility of requiring all buildings to have a minimum F rating by 2020. It has also said it will consult on the roll out of DECs.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting for the property and construction sector, UK-GBC chief executive Paul King will say that radical action is needed to ensure the UK meets its carbon reduction targets and to allow the UK companies benefit from lower energy bills and better buildings.

Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council said: "The UK Green Building Council and many in the industry have been calling for the roll out of Display Energy Certificates to commercial buildings for some time, so Government's recent announcement is hugely welcome. DECs can provide essential data on which to base decisions – if we don't know how energy inefficient our buildings are, how can we properly manage and improve them?"

"But we need to go further. Phasing out the worst performing buildings by setting minimum energy standards is essential if we're to send a clear signal to the industry on what should be expected over the next few years. It is this clarity of policy direction that will spur innovation and enable the investment required in our leaky building stock.

"There comes a point when you have to say that a building cannot be leased or sold without major improvements. It appears government is willing to look at this, which would be a major step forward. Industry needs this certainty, regardless of the political weather."

Non-domestic buildings (such as supermarkets, offices, hotels and factories) in the UK are currently responsible for 18% of CO2 emissions. Over 75% of non-domestic buildings in the UK are more than 70 years old. In total buildings account for 40% of global energy use.

The measures would mean major upgrades for thousands of buildings in the UK. Display Energy Certificates, energy efficiency and carbon emissions are currently required for public buildings. According to information published by the BBC there are currently 5,159 public buildings with a G rating. This represents 15% of all public buildings that currently have a DEC – and includes well-known landmarks such as Portcullis House, British Museum, Bank of England, Palace of Westminster and the Imperial War Museum.

Energy Performance Certificates show predicted energy usage rather than actual energy usage and are required when a private building is leased or sold. Estimates suggest that more than 100,000 private sector buildings have a G on their EPC. Many buildings in the commercial sector are likely to perform just as badly, but DECs, which give an A-G rating based on actual energy use, are currently only required of public buildings, not all commercial buildings.

Some UK-GBC member companies have committed to voluntary roll-out of DECs throughout their portfolios.

The UK is committed to cutting its carbon use by 34 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 under the Climate Change Act. The UK-GBC has called for a cut in carbon from the built environment by 50% in the next decade.

Source: UK Green Building Council

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