The first major report to come out from the UK Green Building Council focuses on the detail of what needs to be done to create sustainable buildings. Government take notice.

So we end 2007 with yet another report and yet another major piece of future legislation for the industry to grapple with. This one's for non-domestic buildings and the report has been worked on for government by the UK Green Building Council. Although the code is some way off the UKGBC is talking 2020 as the date when zero carbon buildings can be achieved. It would be easy to dismiss as another document with heady ambitions leading to botched delivery but I see the report somewhat differently.

The report is as useful a snapshot as to where the industry currently is to really tackling the practicalities of building green as anything that has been released this year. From rhetoric to reality is my latest description of where I see the industry is in this journey and the UKGBC document confirms that. Whilst it sees 2020 as possible there are plenty of hurdles to jump over first. Hence the report summarises the deficiencies in both industry and government knowledge that is holding things back, many of which I've highlighted in the past year:

  • Data - The UKGBC want a national database of actual energy use of buildings. This they point out would offer some direction in the challenge of tackling the running sore that is existing buildings.
  • Renewables - Lot of to-ing and fro-oing on this issue in 2007. The UKGBC clearly states there should be a hierarchy for emissions reductions, starting with design and then dealing with on-site, near site and off-site. The report also calls for a UK-wide renewable resource estimation tool for working out the potential energy supply on individual sites.
  • Cost and demand - The former has yet to be really nailed as yet. It's more expensive, hence this is limiting demand. The report says that building occupiers "must be engaged in demand reduction". That's a bit woolly but there is one definite recommendation - "Consideration should be given to requiring the occupier to pay for the actual amount of carbon emitted (as shown on the DEC) over and above that predicted to be used by the building by the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)"

This all at theory stage but the UKGBC have at least grabbed the key constraints and actions that needed to be taken to get to low/zero carbon. The question, as ever, is whether Whitehall is up to the challenge. As I'm likely to go into later in the week the portents are far from great given the rollout of Energy Performance Certificates next year.