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Architects press government to commit to zero carbon homes by 2016

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Construction professionals including architects Rab Bennetts and Sunand Prasad have signed a letter calling on the government to commit to cut emissions from buildings

More than 50 leading industry figures have signed the letter to chancellor George Osborne highlighting the ‘major economic opportunity’ offered by reducing the built environment’s carbon emissions.

In its pre-election manifesto the Tory party pledged to ‘cut emissions as cost-effectively as possible’ and the open letter, coordinated by the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), aims to ensure that energy efficiency in buildings is included in the new government’s long-term economic plan.

The group calls for the government to introduce four long-term policies to provide clarity for the construction sector, including committing to make all new homes zero carbon by 2016, and non-domestic buildings by 2019.

Also included is a call to use infrastructure funding to back a national retrofit programme.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘Business leaders already recognise the importance of bold energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets - not simply because they’re the right thing to do, but because they generate real commercial value for their businesses. 

This is a win-win-win for people, the environment and the economy

‘The new Government has a golden opportunity to put cost effective carbon reductions from buildings at the heart of its economic plan. Ambitious, long-term policies would drive major economic growth and job creation, reduce energy bills for homes and businesses, and strengthen the UK’s energy security. This is a win-win-win for people, the environment and the economy.’

The full text of the open letter

Dear Chancellor,

Congratulations on your recent electoral success and appointment as first secretary of state. As the leaders of businesses and industry groups from across the construction, retrofit and property sectors, we have come together to demonstrate the remarkable degree of consensus that exists on the economic benefits of reducing carbon emissions from the built environment.

Energy used in the construction and operation of homes and buildings accounts for over a third of the UK’s total emissions. Yet our sector offers cost-effective carbon reductions which are not only compatible with ongoing economic recovery and deficit reduction, but present a major opportunity for economic growth.

Building energy efficiency stimulates economic activity, strengthens our international competitiveness and creates thousands of jobs across the UK, mostly with small local businesses. It lowers costs for businesses and householders, and reduces the burden on the NHS. And as a more cost effective means of meeting demand than building new generating capacity, it is also crucial in safeguarding our energy security.

We strongly welcome the commitments in the Conservative Manifesto to support the Climate Change Act and to push for a strong global climate deal in Paris later this year. But to continue to stimulate investment and innovation in building energy efficiency, the Government will need ambitious, long term policies which provide a clear trajectory for our sector:

  • Recognise energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority and allocate infrastructure funds to catalyse a national programme to bring all UK homes up to EPC band C
  • Deliver on the commitment for all new homes and all new non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon from 2016 and 2019 respectively, with practical and robust ‘Allowable Solutions’ encouraging low and zero carbon community energy solutions
  • Ensure that Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for the commercial and private rented sector from 2018 are effectively enforced, with adequate support available for Local Authorities and exemptions kept to a minimum where practical
  • Outline how the Government intends to meet the third and fourth carbon budgets, and introduce an ambitious fifth carbon budget, in line with the recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change

We would welcome the opportunity for a small number of our businesses to discuss these issues with you in person.

Yours sincerely

  • Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive, UK Green Building Council
  • Joanne Wade, Director, Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE)
  • Keith Exford CBE, Chief Executive, Affinity Sutton
  • Pat Ward, Chief Executive, Aggregate Industries UK
  • Matt Pullen, Country Director, AkzoNobel UK
  • Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group
  • Gary Newman, Executive Chair, Alliance for Sustainable Building Products
  • David Partridge, Managing Partner, Argent (Property Development) Services LLP
  • Tristram Carfrae, Deputy Chair, Arup
  • John Hughes, Managing Director, Ask Property Developments
  • Patrick Bellew, Principal, Atelier Ten
  • Graham Cash, Chief Executive, BAM Construct UK
  • Mark Clare, Group Chief Executive, Barratt Developments
  • Rab Bennetts, Director, Bennetts Associates
  • Sarah Ratcliffe, Programme Director, Better Buildings Partnership
  • Malcolm Whetstone, Chief Operating Officer, Bilfinger GVA
  • Nicolas Guérin, Managing Director, Bouygues Development
  • Peter Bonfield, Chief Executive, BRE
  • Richard Francis, Chair, Environmental Sustainability Group, British Council for Offices
  • Edward Cooke, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, British Council for Shopping Centres
  • Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation
  • Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium
  • Hamish Macleod, Director of Public Affairs, BSW Timber
  • David Dryden, Chairman, Cundall
  • Alan Somerville, Director, Head of Strategic Energy and Sustainability EMEA, DTZ
  • Tony Cocker, Chief Executive Officer, E.ON UK
  • Ed Matthew, Director, Energy Bill Revolution
  • John Craggs, Deputy Chief Executive, Gentoo Group
  • Peter Connolly, Chief Executive, Igloo Regeneration
  • Rob Boogaard, Chief Executive, Interface
  • Mark Stupples, UK Chief Operating Officer, JLL
  • Dave Sheridan, Chief Executive, Keepmoat
  • Richard Gillies, Chief Sustainability Officer, Kingfisher
  • John Sinfield, Managing Director, Knauf Insulation Northern Europe
  • Cyrille Ragoucy, Chief Executive, Lafarge Tarmac
  • Bill Hughes, Head of Real Assets, Legal & General Property
  • Dan Labbad. Chief Executive Officer, International Operations, Lend Lease
  • Bill Rumble, Chief Commercial Officer, Mark Group
  • Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business, Marks and Spencer
  • Donald Daw, Joint Managing Director, Mitsubishi Electric Living Environmental Systems UK
  • Gill Payne, Director of Policy and External Affairs, National Housing Federation
  • Sunand Prasad, Senior Partner, Penoyre & Prasad
  • Gill Webber, Director of Communications & Outreach, RIBA
  • Peter Rickaby, Director, Rickaby Thompson
  • Peter Hindle, MBE, Senior Vice-President, Sustainable Habitat, Saint-Gobain, and General Delegate, Saint-Gobain (UK, Ireland and South Africa)
  • David Sleath, Chief Executive, SEGRO
  • Ivo Schaedler, General Manager, Sika
  • Tony Aikenhead, Director of Operations, Sir Robert McAlpine
  • Dave Sowden, Chief Executive, Sustainable Energy Association
  • John Carter, Chief Executive, Travis Perkins Group
  • Tim Cobbold, Chief Executive Officer, UBM
  • Lindsay Harvey, President (UK and Ireland), UTC Building & Industrial Systems
  • Alex Flach, Construction and Maintenance Director, Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants
  • Rob Lambe, Managing Director, Willmott Dixon
  • Neil Schofield, Head of External Affairs, Worcester Bosch


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