MPs to examine how to ‘green’ existing buildings

A Parliamentary enquiry has been launched to establish what ministers, city leaders, property owners and occupiers need to do to cut carbon emissions from the country’s offices, shops and factories. The enquiry wants local firms and political leaders to get involved and support this first public enquiry into the issue. Because new buildings represent just 1 to 2 % of the total stock, existing buildings are seen as the priority. Despite the Government’s 2016 timetable for zero-carbon homes and an imminent consultation over moves to introduce green non-domestic buildings by 2019, there are concerns that improvements to existing buildings are not being made quickly enough and that ministers could do more to encourage greater effort. An all-party urban-development group comprising MPs and peers focused on regeneration policy is holding the enquiry. It is calling for submissions for central Government and the public and private sectors on the reforms needed to reduce the environmental impact of existing buildings. The enquiry will look into improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings, barriers to reducing emissions, regulation, fiscal incentives, penalties and educations campaigns needed to address these barriers effectively. Clive Betts, MP, is chairman of the group, and says, ‘There is no doubt at all about the urgency of responding to the threat of climate change. The Stern Review made a compelling case about the economic costs and risks of inaction. The built environment accounts for 50% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and while debate has so far focused on the carbon footprint of people’s homes, less attention has been paid to the energy efficiency of commercial buildings, — which accounts for half of this figure. ‘This enquiry will help fill this gap by exploring how cities can work with property owners and their occupiers to help “green” commercial buildings. Central Government, city leaders, the voluntary sector and businesses all have a role to play.’

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