New report on sustainable infrastructure urges public sector buildings to provide 'anchor load' of demand

Public sector buildings should be made to connect to existing or planned community heat networks, according to a report to be published today by the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) and the Zero Carbon Hub.

The joint task group on sustainable community infrastructure calls for public sector buildings to connect to existing or planned community heat networks, where available and viable, to provide an “anchor load” of demand. Large businesses should be encouraged to do the same.

Other key recommendations from the report include local authorities developing “sustainability option plans”, to identify opportunities to deliver joined-up sustainable community infrastructure and work in partnership with the private sector to supply this.

The group also says that the “allowable solutions” mechanism - whereby developers can invest in alternative solutions to meet the new zero-carbon buildings standard - should be used as a way to provide additional ring-fenced capital to support the delivery of heat infrastructure.

Paul King, chief executive UK-GBC, said: “Our homes and buildings cannot be sustainable in isolation. In many cases it makes sense to join up delivery of infrastructure such as energy, water and waste at a community scale.

“There has been an assumption that consumers are instinctively against things like district heat or waste-to-energy plants, but our research suggests that is no longer the case.”

He added that delivering sustainable community infrastructure, particularly district heating, is often still seen as expensive and high risk, which is why the public sector needs to play a key role to instil confidence and make schemes viable.