Improved building efficiency would bring economic benefits, say construction leaders

Reducing carbon emissions from buildings represents a major economic opportunity, according to the leaders of 55 major construction firms and business groups.

In an open letter to Chancellor George Osborne published last week in the Daily Telegraph, the business leaders said that there was a remarkable consensus on the economic benefits of improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

Energy used in constructing and running homes and other buildings accounts for over a third of Britain’s total emissions. Yet our sector can offer cost-effective carbon reductions that are not only compatible with continuing reduction of the deficit, but also present a major opportunity for economic growth, the letter stated.

It continued: Making buildings energy-efficient stimulates economic activity, strengthens international competitiveness and creates thousands of jobs, mostly with small local businesses. It lowers costs for businesses and householders, and reduces the burden on the NHS. More cost-effective than increasing generation, it safeguards Britain’s energy security.

Signatories included Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, which coordinated the letter, and Sustainable Energy Association chief executive Dave Sowden.

The business leaders set out four long-term policies which they said are needed to provide clarity for the sector:Recognise energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority and allocate infrastructure funds for a national retrofit programme.Deliver on the commitment to make all new homes zero carbon from 2016, followed by all new non-domestic buildings from 2019.Ensure that minimum energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector from 2018 are effectively enforced.Outline how the Government intends to meet the third and fourth carbon budgets, and introduce an ambitious fifth carbon budget which is in line with recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change.

Hirigoyen commented: The new Government has a golden opportunity to put cost-effective carbon reductions from buildings at the heart of its economic plan. Ambitious, long-term policies would drive major economic growth and job creation, reduce energy bills for homes and businesses, and strengthen the UK’s energy security. This is a win-win-win for people, the environment and the economy.

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