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ACE calls for 'step-change in building efficiency'

ACE calls for 'step-change in building efficiency'

ACE calls for 'step-change in building efficiency'

There needs to be a "step-change" in energy efficiency policy for buildings across the UK if the country wants to achieve its climate targets.

That's according to the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) and the Regulatory Assistance Project, which released a report painting a "worrying picture" for Britain's prospects of hitting its carbon targets in the building sector.

A number of proposals were made that could prove significant for businesses trying to improve their efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint, including a low-interest loan programme for companies that want to upgrade their properties and prepare for a sustainable future.

In a blog post marking the launch of the new report, ACE said there have been some "major setbacks" in the past 18 months, as far as policies affecting carbon emissions from buildings are concerned.

The government has made significant changes including ending financial support for the Green Deal scheme, which was designed to help people make energy-saving improvements to properties, and reducing funding for the Energy Company Obligation.

It was also noted that zero-carbon new-build efforts have stalled, while a review of business energy taxes resulted in proposals for a new structure, but as yet there is no clear framework in place to encourage companies to act on energy efficiency.

Based on projections from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, current policies would result in direct emissions from buildings falling by 21 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. That would put emissions only 12 per cent below 'business as usual' carbon output for 2030 and 18 per cent above levels recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.

ACE also noted that there is a degree of uncertainty around predicted emissions reductions, partly because of the vote to leave the EU, which raises questions about which European policies will continue to apply in the UK.

The energy efficiency campaign group said: "We need to de-risk, reform, extend and expand existing policies, but also introduce new instruments in order to speed up carbon abatement in the buildings sector.

"Additional regulatory policies such as energy efficiency standards at point-of-sale (as is currently being implemented in France and considered in Scotland) are needed and new-build standards need to be tightened towards zero-carbon or nearly zero-energy. Alongside, a substantial financing scheme offering low-interest loans is required to enable households and businesses to upgrade their properties and make them fit for a low-carbon future."

As well as investing in upgrading their premises to maximise efficiency, businesses can focus on implementing behavioural changes and encouraging new ways of thinking in the workplace to reduce energy consumption. Another big consideration is the green credentials of any outside partners or third-party service providers, such as cleaning companies.

A recent study by npower Business Solutions and the Centre for Economics and Business Research suggested that companies could save up to £860 million by adopting the right "carbon psychology".

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/PhonlamaiPhoto