The House Builders Federation has disputed a report attacking the environmental performance of housebuilders.
The report, entitled Six Guiding Principles to Improving Sustainability in Housebuilding, criticises the slow rate at which housebuilders are making environmental improvements.

The document, written by the Housing Forum's sustainability working group, calls for housebuilders to take the lead in environmental issues by selling sustainability to buyers.

The report says: "The role of the housing industry should be to both promote and adopt change. Housebuilders need to take up the similar challenge of persuading people that they want environment-friendly housing and that it will give them a better quality of life."

It adds that housebuilders should follow the lead of other sectors, such as the motor industry, by anticipating customer demands rather than following them.

It says: "Car seat belts were a recognised safety meas ure in the industry long before motorists accepted them as necessary. The car industry did not wait until there was a queue outside the showrooms of buyers demanding seat belts."

An HBF spokesperson said the sector was already leading the way in environmental concerns and that poor environmental performance was concentrated among older housing stock.

The planning system doesn’t allow housebuilders to provide new homes, let alone replace older stock

HBF spokesperson

He said: "New homes are four times more energy efficient than Victorian ones. There is no question, the older stock is by far the biggest contributor to this problem."

The spokesperson questioned the report's argument that upping the green element of new housing would lead to older housing stock being brought up to standard.

He said the key to greater environmental improvements in housing was reform of the planning system: "The planning system doesn't allow housebuilders to provide the new homes needed now, let alone replace older stock."

The report's six guiding principles of sustainability include: reducing carbon dioxide emissions; minimising pollution; consideration of whole-life costs; and maximising utilities such as waste management.