UK-GBC Responds to Government Environmental Audit Committee Report

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UK-GBC Responds to Government Environmental Audit Committee Report

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has today responded to the Sustainability and HM Treasury report released by the Environmental Audit Committee.

The report highlights the Treasury’s recent propensity to cancel or change long-established environmental policies with little or no consultation with relevant businesses and industries. It also calls for the reinstatement of the Zero Carbon Homes policy, which was cancelled in July 2015.

In the report’s conclusion it states “The Treasury needs to improve the way it captures and takes account of long-term environmental costs and benefits. It must ensure that it has the best available evidence when making decisions about specific interventions.”

On Zero Carbon Homes, the report concludes

“In 2015 the Treasury abolished the zero carbon homes policy. Despite the Treasury’s justification for doing this, the decision surprised and in some cases angered many in the industry–including the construction industry–because it had been working towards implementing the policy for over a decade. There is a risk that costs to the economy and householders will increase in the long-term as a result of the lastminute decision because new homes will need to be retrofitted to improve their energy efficiency and therefore contribute towards meetingthe UK’s 2050 carbon targets.

“The decision harms the development of new markets for innovative energy-saving products, and wastes years of the industry’s sunk costs. We recommend that the Government reinstate the zero carbon standard for new homes. 

John Alker, Campaign and Policy Director at UK-GBC, said:

 “The Committee is absolutely right to highlight the damaging effects of the ill-conceived deregulation we have seen from the Treasury in recent years.

“The scrapping of Zero Carbon Homes was an example of politically motivated policy-making. It showed not only an irresponsible disregard for the steps we need to take to tackle climate change, but also overlooked the years of investment and preparation made by thousands of companies across the construction supply chain. This volatility in the policy landscape is highly damaging to industry, jobs and investor confidence.

“The new Government has an opportunity to draw a line under this, and in the future base policy making on clear evidence. We echo the Committee’s call to reinstate the Zero Carbon Homes policy and urge the Government to ensure that, in its efforts boost housebuilding, it maintains focus on delivering high-quality homes fit for the future. New homes should keep bills low for households, avoid placing unnecessary burden on national energy infrastructure and should not need to be expensively retrofitted in 15 years’ time in order to meet our carbon targets.”

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