View from the outside

How does the rest of the world view us?

If the UK ever wanted a clear, concise insight into how it's sustainable policies are viewed by outsiders, it was provided recently by former US Vice President Al Gore.

Addressing a climate leadership event that was hosted by the Green Alliance and the CBI in central London last week, Gore said:

“Since the election was held, (the UK's) commitment to zero-carbon homes has been cancelled. This country’s commitment to carbon build has been cancelled. The Green Deal has been cancelled. The climate change levy exemption for zero-carbon energy has been cancelled. Solar support via the renewables obligation has been cancelled. Onshore wind support via the renewable obligation has been cancelled. The actions that have been taken here in the last few months are puzzling to me.”

Gore deals in plain speaking when it comes to climate change, and he has made his thoughts on that topic well known. Agree with him or not, you can't get away from the fact that his comments are a fair summary of what has happened to the UK’s stance on a range of renewable and energy efficiency policies since the election.

Gore’s view is in lockstep with the leader column of MBS editor Ken Sharpe in the September issue. But read that issue a bit further, and you will find proposed solutions to the government's backpedalling on sustainable building issues.

Mike Malina of the Building & Engineering Services Association (B&ES) suggests the setting of more stringent performance targets through Building Regulations as a clearer path to better energy efficiency, driving greater collaboration between designer and contractor. Most people involved in trying to make buildings work more efficiently in the long-term would agree that there has always been poor enforcement of Part L of the Building Regulations.

Malina is also not alone when he points out that twe need to convince clients that there is a greater prize on offer than up-front costs savings, if they can truly grasp the value of investing in quality rather than focusing on capital cost. This reflects last year's 10-80-10 Building Services Summit organised by the B&ES and the BCIA - the aim being to show operational savings can be far more significant than up-front cost-cutting.

There may have been plenty of holes kicked through the side of the UK building industry’s green ambitions since May, but as we see in this month’s issue, the building services industry has a good idea of how to patch them up - as long as those spending the money (government included) pay attention.

Karen Fletcher is Director Keystone Communications

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