Construction industry has to be proactive and not wait for government intervention when it comes to carbon reduction, says sustainability body

The construction industry cannot rely on the government to force it to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment and must take the lead itself, the UK Green Building Council has said.

In a major change of direction Paul King, chief executive of the UK-GBC, said the sustainability body was creating a “business plan” to show how tackling carbon emissions was profitable, rather than relying on the government to enforce or subsidse change. 

The UK-GBC is also calling on its 330 members to disclose their carbon footprints and calculate full-life carbon for buildings as part of a drive to cut the emissions of the built environment by 50% by 2020.

“It’s largely in response to the fact that this government is emphasising small government and the private sector,” King said.

“Over the past five years the biggest steps forward have been driven by government, but I don’t anticipate the same kind of lead from this government.”

“This has got to be about business stepping up and saying: ’this represents a business opportunity’,” he said.

King said the UK-GBC would begin consulting on the details of the business plan in April for six months to a year. The plan will work out where markets for green building exist, and what the government will need to do to unlock them.

Industry bodies, including the UK-GBC and the CBI have warned that carbon reduction policies, such as the Green Deal, lack detail. They say these will need to be backed up with higher subsidies or regulation if they are to retrofit all 22 million homes in the UK.

King commented, “There are currently things that the government needs to do, but we will have to do most of this ourselves.”