Construction leaders welcome plan despite omission of several recommendations

The government’s plan for delivering a low carbon construction sector, published this week, has been broadly welcomed by industry despite holding back from committing to several major recommendations from industry leaders.

The plan, published on Wednesday, is a response to recommendations produced in November by the Low Carbon Construction Innovation and Growth Team (IGT), led by chief construction adviser Paul Morrell.

Among key recommendations in the plan are:

  • To establish a green construction board, to be set up by September
  • To establish a standard method of measuring embodied carbon, which will be led by the RICS
  • To reform the way government procures construction and infrastructure projects with an aim to cut costs by up to 20%.

However, the plan pledged to consider, rather than implement, several of the IGT report’s other recommendations. These include creating an existing homes hub to monitor the success of retrofitting and the mandatory use of display energy certificates (DECs).

The action plan has also dropped the IGT’s suggestion that the government include a whole life carbon assessment in its “Green Book”, which sets the principles by which the public sector assesses the economic case for projects and policies, although it will consider other suggestions for measuring whole life carbon.

Morrell said some of the IGT’s 65 recommendations were left out because they were not backed by many people whereas others, such as the existing homes hub and complex problems like whole life carbon measurement, required more thought.

Construction minister Mark Prisk hinted that the government would ensure DECs were rolled out, despite not yet being in the Energy Bill. When asked about lack of commitment to a roll-out in the action plan, he said there were “some orphans [IGT recommendations left out of the action plan] but we hope to make sure a parent will come forward”.

One IGT member said: “I thought Prisk was clear that it wasn’t a question of whether but when on DECs.” He added that the government had been “right to proceed with caution” on carbon costing. He added: “The government is seriously engaged and there is personal commitment from Paul Morrell and Mark Prisk and clearly commitment from the industry.”

David Strong, consultant and chair of the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes, said he understood that the Better Regulation Executive, which also sits within BIS, has called for more evidence of the merits of DECs before agreeing to allow them to be rolled out.

He said: “There is a degree of frustration the report didn’t come out more favourably on DECs. In general it’s fair to say the report puts off a number of the key decisions.”

John Tebbitt, industry affairs director at the Construction Products Association, welcomed the action plan but said it did not do enough to measure carbon.

Low carbon plan

  • A green construction board, set up by September, will be co- chaired by business minister Mark Prisk and another industry figure. Its members will include Paul Morrell
  • The government will consider, rather than implement, the idea of existing homes hub to monitor retrofitting and mandatory use of display energy certificates recommended by the IGT report
  • The action plan dropped the IGT’s idea of including whole life carbon assessment in the Green Book, which sets the principles for public sector economic assessments
  • Government will help UK companies target the host cities of future Olympic Games and target the largest overseas projects


Richard Diment, director general, Federation of Master Builders

The vast majority of builders work for domestic clients and SMEs. Will the incentives be there to encourage individuals who want to do this work on our homes? Top of the list would be 5% VAT.

Jonathan d’Souza, director, Constructing Excellence

There are recommendations that have not been taken forward but a lot are to do with time rather than lack of commitment.

Paul Morrell, government chief construction adviser

I am delighted the government has taken on so many of the recommendations of the IGT report which was developed with expertise from across industry.

Paul King, chief executive, UK Green Building Council

I welcome their commitment to a shared action plan, the green construction board and the fact Mark Prisk is going to be co chair.