How the Carbon Trust can help deliver low-carbon buildings
As 1 April 2007 approaches and the transitional period for the implementation of the new Building Regulations comes to an end, advice and support on implementing low carbon buildings is at hand for both building professionals and their customers says Hugh Jones
of the Carbon Trust.When the Government announced that the building industry had just a year in which to comply with new energy-efficiency Building Regulations, the need for action on climate change was made clear. Buildings are responsible for up to 45% of the UK’s carbon emissions so to deliver the target of a 40% increase in energy-efficiency standards in just four years, implementation could not be delayed. Nevertheless as April approaches, some industry professionals remain in the dark on how to go about implementing necessary changes to achieve low carbon building design. That is why the Carbon Trust has developed a series of free and subsidised initiatives for anyone involved in a significant non-domestic renovation or new-build project. The Low Carbon Building Design Advice service is available on many levels. A free guide explains how to integrate energy efficiency into building programmes, while on-site consultancy advice is available for a range of projects from master planning through to completion and construction. For anyone who still needs convincing, low-carbon buildings not only make environmental sense but also good economic sense and can prove to be attractive long-term investments. A report by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors last year suggests green buildings can also command higher rents and prices, attract tenants more quickly, reduce tenant turnover and cost less to operate and maintain. And, as politicians, businesses and public sector organisations stress their public commitment to sustainability, reducing emissions and carbon neutrality, the demand for low-carbon buildings can only increase. However, all low-carbon buildings need to be well maintained if they are to provide the full cost benefits to owners and help reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate change. While many organisations feel they are already aware of the simple energy-efficient technologies available, the impact these can have can be significant without requiring large financial investment. For example, with regard to lighting, replacing older 38 mm fluorescent tubes with 26 mm tubes will reduce an electricity bill by up to 9%, and maximising daylight in renovation and using the most efficient controls, such as timers, can produce savings of more than 30%. As demand grows, the range of energy efficient equipment is increasing as can be seen from the Energy Technology List (www.eca.gov.uk) which now contains nearly 10 000 products meeting strict energy-saving criteria. What is more, equipment bought on this list qualifies for an Enhanced Capital Allowance that provides 100% tax relief. Organisations and industry professionals looking for guidance on low-carbon refurbishment can contact the Carbon Trust via its dedicated Advice Line on 0800 085 2005 or visit the website at www.carbontrust.co.uk. Hugh Jones is senior account manager at the Carbon Trust.