Government is a long way off from meeting its own targets for sustainable buildings says Commons committee

The Government met its own environmental standards on just 9% of major building and refurbishment projects during 2005-06, a House of Commons committee has found.

In 2005, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) published the Common Minimum Standards for both construction and refurbishment projects and the operation of buildings.

Since 2002 Government departments have been required to carry out BREEAM assessments on new projects and reach a very good rating (for refurbishments) or an excellent rating (for new builds)

However, only 35% of new builds and 18% of major refurbishment projects have undergone BREEAM, the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts said in today’s findings.

The report also found that the take-up of its Quick Wins goods, “a set of minimum environmental standards covering a range of commonly-purchased goods, including IT equipment, white goods, paper and construction materials,” was very limited despite being mandatory since 2003.

Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “The Government is a long way off meeting its own targets for the sustainability of its buildings.

“It should practice what it preaches and set an example for others to follow. The message must be driven home that sustainability can and should deliver better value for money over the whole lifetime of a building.”

The Committee recommended:

  • A ‘BREEAM-lite’ should be developed to increase assessments in smaller projects;
  • The Treasury should simplify the application of whole-life costing, promote and monitor its take-up by departments and improve consistency in its accounts.
  • The OGC needs to find ways of encouraging departments to meet environmental objectives and achieve better take up of Quick Wins, perhaps including incentives or recognition schemes.

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) in November last year found that a third of Government departments had no energy consumption figures.

The NAO tested the sustainability ratings of 45 buildings for today’s report.