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Heatwave prompts 'green' drive

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The industry's leading thinkers on sustainability have made an urgent plea for drastic action to green the nation's building stock and combat global warming. The calls come in the wake of the recent heatwave that saw temperatures soar to more than 100degreesF.

The group - which includes the chair of the RIBA's sustainability committee Bill Gething, Robin Nicholson of Edward Cullinan Architects, Mark Whitby of engineer Whitby Bird and Dave Hampton from the Construction Industry Council - has launched a drive to persuade the government to get tougher on sustainability.

They kicked off their campaign with a letter to the Independent newspaper earlier this month in which they urged the government to use tax breaks and penalties to force improvements in the energy performance of all new and existing buildings.

About half of all the UK's carbon dioxide emissions - the main greenhouse gas - are related to energy use in buildings for light and power. Experts believe it is currently possible to reduce by two-thirds the reliance of buildings on fossil fuel energy.

To achieve this, the signatories suggest extending forthcoming EU legislation that will require all buildings to be assessed for energy performance.

Council tax bands and business rates would increasingly take account of the assessments - the greener the building, the lower the rate. Taxes would be phased in, with assistance given to the most vulnerable, the elderly and those on low incomes.

'Over time, incentives are ramped up and innovation flourishes; we find common purpose, the economy benefits, climate impacts reduce and quality of life for all improves, ' they said.

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