Budget announcement gets mixed response from industry. UKGBC says it is missing opportunities to improve existing stock

All new non-domestic buildings should be ‘zero carbon’ by 2019, the Government announced in today’s budget. If the Government’s ambitions are realised, the nations schools and houses will be net emitters of CO2 in 2016; and its hotels, offices and shops will reach the target three years later.

The Government said it was currently consulting with industry to finalise timeline and implementation feasibility. The plans put the country at the forefront of environmental legislation, the budget report said:

“Achieving this goal will establish Britain amongst the world leaders in the field and make a significant contribution toward mitigating climate change by saving approximately 75 MtCo2 in the next thirty years.”

Industry Reaction

The announcement met with mixed reactions from industry. The Good Homes Alliance called the 2019 plans “unrealistic and unhelpful” saying that a 70% energy reduction on new homes and commercial buildings would be more realistic and cost-effective.

The Royal Insititute of Chartered Surveyors said commercial developers were "unlikely to welcome the move". "It could hit the sector hard by adding significant costs to new builds without increasing value at a time when the sector is facing a significant dip in demand"

However, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) with whom the Government consulted at length before releasing the plans, welcomed the announcement.

"Arguments rage about ‘green taxes’ in the transport sector, and the impact on individuals, yet opportunities continue to be missed to put our homes and buildings at the centre of our battle against climate change."

Paul King, UK Green Building Council

“It’s an ambitious target, but one which the industry, through the UKGBC, has shown that it is up for, and is achievable,” said the organisation’s Paul King.

“The zero carbon concept … has genuinely galvanised the construction industry and remains this government’s most impressive environmental policy to date.”

However, King said the Government was in danger of missing the boat on the 98% of existing housing stock, saying that we were ‘running out of time.’

“Opportunities continue to be missed to put our homes and offices without real incentives for people and businesses to take action.

“Using EPCs as a basic, stamp duty rebates, council tax rebates, business rate relief and cuts to VAT for refurbishment are credible options with widespread support.Another budget has come and gone without taking any of these up.”

The British Property Federation welcomed the statement but said it wanted to see direct incentives in return for improved environmental performance. "Targets without incentives will drive the industry under," it said in a statement which came out before the budget report.