Developers tell Ecobuild session that CRC scheme will not incentivise energy efficiency improvements

The property industry will not meet the government’s target of zero carbon new commercial buildings by 2019, the group chief executive of Land Securities Francis Salway has said.

Salway, who is also chairman of the British Property Federation’s sustainability committee, said the target “just isn’t doable at the moment”.

He was speaking at a property panel discussion at the Ecobuild conference in London, with representatives from Hammerson, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and Broadland Housing Group.

The developers spoke against the government’s carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme - an emissions trading scheme that will be extended to cover all businesses in April - saying it would not work to incentivise energy efficiency improvements.

Salway said: “CRC is meant to be a carrot and stick policy but really it’s just a tax. It should be simplified and recognised as a tax in order to eliminate the red tape.”

Angus McIntosh, chairman of JLL’s UK research unit, said the CRC would hit property owners hardest in regions where they could least afford to pay because the scheme did not take into account differing property prices.

CRC is meant to be a carrot and stick policy but it should be recognised as a tax

Francis Salway, Land Securities

He said: “In London CRC is of minor significance [because property prices are high], but in Newcastle it could make or break a firm.”

The developers called on the government to provide them with greater incentives to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, including linking the energy performance of buildings to reduced business rates.

The firms also called on the government to make Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and Display Energy Certificates (DEC) more robust.

McIntosh claimed EPC and DEC assessments could differ greatly from one assessor to the other.

He said: “To improve your rating you just need to get a new assessor.”

Paul Edwards, Hammerson’s head of sustainability, said: “If we linked energy performance to business rates and established a more robust labelling system, this would drive improvements.”