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Re-energising the green agenda report published

Posted: 8th October 2013

The Green Deal needs to be made more financially attractive and the Green Construction Board given more teeth, if the UK is to halve carbon dioxide emissions from buildings by 2025, says an All Party Parliamentary Group in a report published on 8 October 2013.

In its report, Re-energising the green agenda, the Commission of Inquiry of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment gives its backing to the Green Deal, the Government’s flagship green policy, but says it urgently needs to be reviewed. “We certainly applaud the Government for introducing the Green Deal, but we feel it is time to take another look at the detail, make it work for social housing, galvanise the schemes locally across the country and make financial incentives permanent,” the report says. “The concern is that in the current form the Green Deal and Energy Companies Obligation will deliver fewer carbon emissions reductions than the policies they replaced.”

The 36-page report, launched at the House of Commons, is also urging greater clarity from Government. It says: “Despite setting out ambitious targets, the Government has been sending mixed messages about its commitment to the green agenda. This has been particularly apparent over the delay to the revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations covering energy efficiency, and the slow progress on establishing how zero carbon will be met for domestic buildings in 2016. In recent years unexpected changes to the feed-in-tariffs also caused consternation and undermined confidence in the construction sector.”

Buildings account for nearly 50% of all carbon dioxide emissions and reducing the carbon footprint of our new and existing buildings is vital if the UK is to reach its ambitious carbon reduction targets.

The report makes seven recommendations to Government, which include:

• Bolstering the Green Construction Board to make it a more transparent organisation that could provide a construction industry focal point for delivery and action. The report says it needs to be made clear also what its relationship is with the newly constituted Construction Leadership Council and transparent reporting lines set out. The Green Construction Board is a Government funded group of experts set up in November 2011 to advise on policies relating to green construction.

• Setting up an Existing Homes Hub, akin to the Zero Carbon Homes Hub, to engage with industry on sustainability issues and provide a neutral space for the industry and DECC to work together and deal with non-Green Deal retrofit issues as well.

• Reviewing the Green Deal and placing a stronger focus on local initiatives - even on Germany’s rate of progress it would take us 130 years to upgrade 26 million homes.

• Consulting on a new Green Deal for social landlords which could play a crucial role in galvanising the Green Deal at a local level, including offering their services to non-residents.

• Making retrofit more financially attractive including looking at ways in which it can reduce the interest rate on the Green Deal, which is likely to be through underwriting the financing, in much the same way as it has done with the new-build mortgages. It might also consider introducing additional incentives, including stamp duty and/or council taxes linked to energy efficiency (which could be fiscally neutral), which are looking necessary to galvanise the Green Deal take-up.

Oliver Colvile, the Conservative MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport and the Chairman of the group said: “The world faces significant environmental challenges, and to help combat them our Government needs to ensure Britain plays its part in reducing CO2 emissions; make our homes more energy efficient; reduce the costs of heating our homes; help combat fuel poverty and meet our required energy needs.

We hope this report sends a clear message to Government to reaffirm and re-energise its commitment to the delivery of the sustainable agenda in construction and the built environment and in doing so, provide clarity and certainty to help industry play its part in turning policies into success stories. The potential to create jobs at home and export our new skills and expertise in this field abroad is a prize in itself.”

The report is avaliable here.