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Posts Tagged ‘Energy Efficient Buildings’

Energy Efficient Buildings,Non-domestic building,Public Buildings

Energy efficiency policy for workplaces: quick wins for the next Government?

We all know that there is no single ‘magic policy bullet’ that will support the growth of a self-sustaining market for energy efficiency investments, and that a jigsaw of policy pieces is needed to build the necessary framework.

This is the first in a series of blogs looking at ACE’s new policy tracker, and it considers commercial buildings.  It asks, are all the jigsaw pieces in place?  What more can we do easily? And what is going to be a little more difficult?

Where we are now

The Committee on Climate Change identified a least-cost pathway to meeting the 5th carbon budget.  Our analysis of the gap between this and the Government’s projection of emissions given the current policy landscape, shows that – by 2030 – commercial buildings will be emitting 42% more carbon than the ideal, and public sector buildings 34% more.  And the excess energy use involved is costing businesses a lot of money: in London alone, businesses spend over £4 billion per year on gas and electricity; if they could reduce their energy use by a third, that would mean over £1.3 billion every year for these businesses to use on something more productive.

In policy terms, a quick look at the policy tracker clearly shows that we’re really not doing very well.  We don’t appear to have a vision for our commercial buildings, nor do we have an overall target for their energy efficiency.  And we’re not very good at celebrating the achievements of those companies that are working hard to improve their energy productivity.

We have no comprehensive and engaging tax incentives to encourage energy efficiency investments, and there is little action by government to encourage the development of attractive finance offerings.

On a more positive note, the minimum efficiency standards for offices in the Private Rented Sector will result in improvements to our worst commercial buildings, making them better workplaces and hence supporting happier and more productive workers.  We do have energy performance certificates to give organisations information about the premises they are buying or renting, although the requirement for these could be better enforced.  And, in the past, central and local government has taken the lead, through energy demand reduction targets and National Indicators on carbon emissions.

And finally the good(ish) news: products policy has driven up the minimum efficiency standards of widely used appliances, and ESOS has ensured that larger business at least have the tools to understand their energy use and the potential for improvement.  Both these success stories are potentially at risk during Brexit, but we can act to avoid this.

The quick wins

There are some politically and practically easy steps that government and business can and should take right now. The Clean Growth Plan needs to set a high level of ambition for our offices, offering a vision of healthy, comfortable workplaces that support increased productivity; setting a target for commercial buildings energy efficiency and a trajectory towards achieving that target.

The public sector needs to once again set an example: we need targets for energy efficiency in the sector, and public reporting on progress towards these.  Implementing this will help Government achieve the efficiency improvements that it is looking for from the sector without taking money away from public services.

We need a clear message from Government that existing minimum efficiency standards for products, and requirements for energy auditing, will be retained as we exit the EU; and indeed that these policies, which have reduced business energy bills, will be enhanced in the future.

And we as businesses should collaborate on schemes that recognise those companies that are taking a lead in managing their energy use and celebrate their success.

Next steps

Beyond these easy wins, there are other things that won’t be quite as straightforward, but which really do need to happen.

Our existing minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings should be strengthened – by reinstating the trajectory to zero carbon – and our requirements to report on the energy performance of all buildings better enforced.

The review of business energy efficiency taxation has simplified the system but we are still not at the point where all fuels for all users are taxed equitably according to their impact on the climate; and we need to complement the tax with a requirement for public reporting on energy performance for larger companies.

And Government needs to work with the finance sector to ensure that all businesses wishing to invest in energy efficiency (including SMEs) can access attractive finance offerings to support these investments.

If we get these things right, and if we work with the construction trades, we could begin to tap into the already significant market for building refurbishment to ensure that energy performance improvement is a core part of any refurbishment project.

Difficult to do, but we must work out how

Expanding the use of minimum energy performance standards in existing buildings seems to be very difficult politically, and yet business is quite able to deal with regulation in all sorts of areas, provided that it is given sufficient warning and helped to understand how best to respond.  So we should be looking at how we can widen these standards out from the Private Rented Sector and how we can strengthen them.

And we need to bring energy efficiency investments to the top of the pile for business decision-makers: tax incentives for businesses to invest in energy efficiency again seem to be something that Government is reluctant to think about and yet, without them, energy audit recommendations risk being nice projects that get left on the shelf when something more interesting comes along.


We’re really not doing that well at the moment, but surely it is time now for Government to act on some of the easy wins whilst working with us on plans for the next steps.  And we should not shy away from the more difficult steps  – the prize: more competitive businesses, a happier and healthier workforce, and greater energy resilience, is too important!


Do have a look at the details in our snapshop policy tracker and let us know what your view is.  And if you are interested in finding out more about why we think some policy changes are easier than others, have a look at Chapter 6 in our 2016 report on Buildings and the 5th Carbon Budget.

We look forward to policies developing over the coming months and we will be updating the tracker in response to these changes.

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Energy Efficiency,Energy Efficient Buildings,Heating,Non-Residential Buildings

We are all donkeys

On average, we are all 18 per cent wealthier in real terms than we were at the start of the century. On average, we are achieving this increase in affluence while using 14 per cent less energy than in 2000.

One way this turnaround has been achieved is by treating us all like donkeys.

There are three ways to get donkeys to do things. You wave a carrot in front of their noses. You bash them on the rump with a stick. And most importantly, around their ears, you rattle away on a tambourine. All to get the donkey’s attention.

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Energy Efficient Buildings,Zero Carbon Homes


New hub needed to focus on existing buildings

One of the great triumphs of genuine private/public co-operation has been the work of the non-profit Zero Carbon Hub. Ever since its formation in 2008, it has proved to be the acknowledged entity to which everyone turns – companies and Ministers alike – to consider how best to progress towards ensuring that only the most energy and carbon-efficient new buildings are constructed.

But the vast majority of the buildings we shall be living and working in forty years from now have already been built. Precious few of these are even vaguely zero carbon; most waste bucketfuls of energy every day. By common consent we have one of the oldest, and certainly one of the least energy efficient, building stocks in the entire western world.

It is clear that one of the main challenges over the ensuing decades will continue to be to dramatically improve the energy performance of these buildings. This will need to happen at a rate long aspired to. But – as has been shown in the case of the flagship Green Deal Finance policy – right now falling woefully short of even its cost-effective (let alone technical) potential.

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Energy Efficient Buildings,Energy Performance Certificates,Non-Residential Buildings

Don’t let this first step become tied up in red tape

Back in 2011 the Government introduced legislation that Ministers promised would outlaw the letting of any F- or G-rated buildings from 2018. This month marks the conclusion of the
Government’s formal consultation detailing precisely how this potentially market-revolutionising policy will be delivered in practice.

The private rented sector is of growing importance in the residential sector. In the last 15 years the number of people renting from private landlords has increased from 10 to 18 per cent of all households.

That is a sizeable percentage. But nothing like as large as the proportion of the buildings in the non-residential sector that are rented out.

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Energy Efficiency,Energy Efficiency Commitment,Energy Efficient Buildings,Energy Performance Certificates,Stamp Duty

Buy a home and get money back from the government

The Prime Minister was unequivocal. This summer his Government will introduce a new incentive scheme to encourage home movers to invest in energy saving measures.

At his most recent monthly cross-examination by House of Commons Committee chairs, he quite specifically described it as a “stamp duty discount for people who take action to improve the energy performance and energy efficiency of their homes” (Q49).

I only wish that this description had been accurate. Sadly it is not. Because formally the new scheme is not directly related to the stamp duty transaction. And, due to that, it can be argued there is no requirement whatsoever for the key professional groups involved in the buying and selling of homes – specifically, solicitors and licensed conveyancers, and estate agents – to inform anybody about the new scheme.

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Energy Efficient Buildings

DG Energy: Public consultation on financial support for energy efficiency in buildings

ACE has submitted a written response to the European Commission, DG Energy, Public Consultation on Financial Support for Energy Effieincy in Buildings.

In the response ACE stresses the importance of a robust Energy Efficiency Directive and the introduction of a mandatory energy efficiency target in driving energy efficiency investment. The response also points to a number of examples of best practice in Member States including the recycling of the revenues from the sale of the EU ETS allowances into energy efficiency programmes.

Find ACE’s consultation response here.

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Buildings,Energy Efficient Buildings

DECC and CLG call for views on how to improve the energy performance of buildings regime

ACE has submitted a written response to DECC and CLG’s call for views on how to improve the energy performance of buildings regime.

ACE and Friends of the Earth submitted a joint response to this call for views issued by Lord
Marland of Odstock and Andrew Stunnell MP. To read our full response click here.

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Energy Efficiency,Energy Efficient Buildings

As the property market takes a dip the time is right to buy into sustainability

ImageFor years the construction of energy-efficient buildings has fallen foul of a ‘vicious circle of blame’. Will the credit crunch provide the chance to finally break that circle?

“I think the credit crunch has helped the sustainability agenda. Last summer we were still in a period of comfort and opulence. We have put the handbrake on very quickly, and gone straight into sustainability and efficiency. Without going through anything in between.”

That verbatim quote is from a building occupier at a financial institution, speaking at an expert focus group organised by the law firm Taylor Wessing. It appears in a fascinating new study into the attitudes of the property industry to the sustainability agenda, published in January.”

Called ‘Behind the Green Façade’, the study surveys the views of over 800 people, each concerned with commercial buildings. Included are investors and funders, developers, contractors, architects and planners, commercial agents, and end users. In every one of these professional categories at least one hundred different peoples’ views were obtained for this publication during last autumn.”

The picture it paints is one of a genuine willingness to respond to the changes that resource constraints and climate change concerns present. Yet coupled to this willingness is confusion and distrust as to just who should be making the first move. And even what that move should be.

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Code for Sustainable Homes,Energy Efficient Buildings,Housing

EAC Inquiry into greener homes for the future

In summary, this short memorandum by ACE for the Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry into greener homes for the future finds that:

  • Achieving the 2016 target for zero-carbon homes will require an urgent step-change in the number of low- and zero-carbon homes being built. Private developers should be required to match the Housing Association’s requirement of Code Level 3 immediately, and the stamp duty exemption should be extended to encourage early zero-carbon developments;
  • The energy efficiency standards proposed for the 2010 and 2013 Building Regulations targets are achievable and must be met without slippage if the 2016 target is to be met;
  • Government has a responsibility to tackle the widespread problem of non-compliance with the thermal standards in the Building Regulations;
  • Government should require a mandatory assessment (not merely a rating) against the Code for Sustainable Homes for all new marketed homes (this could also help to tackle the issue of non-compliance with the Building Regulations).

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Buildings,Energy Efficient Buildings,European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

Long awaited buildings directive creeps towards finishing line

ImageLess than three months from now and nearly 18 months late the United Kingdom will begin implementing the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive despite the pleas from some organisations for further delays.

In the spring of 2002, every European Union government agreed to the Energy Performance of Buildings directive. In three months time, onJune 1st – some 17 months late – the UK will take the first significant steps towards implementing this directive. Or will we?

The single most innovative commitment in the directive is that, whenever a building changes occupancy, the new arrival will receive an objective assessment of its current energy performance, together with some specific ideas about what can be done to improve it – simple as that.

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