Carbon Trust Calls for Major Move to Build a Greener Future Today; Commercial Buildings Must Become More Energy Efficient

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Byline: Si'n Barry

THE scale of the challenge needed to reduce the carbon footprint of Britain's commercial buildings has been revealed in a report.

According to the Carbon Trust, Britain's commercial, industrial and public buildings need to improve from an average E energy rating today to C by 2020 and A by 2050 for the UK to meet its national carbon reduction obligations.

Building the Future Today confirms that an urgent focus on the non-domestic building sector is needed to keep the UK on track to deliver carbon reductions of 80% by 2050.

Currently, 18% of the country's emissions can be attributed to the non-domestic building sector and these emissions have remained static for the last 20 years.

If the right strategy is followed, the carbon footprint of non-domestic buildings could be reduced by more than one third (35%) by 2020 and a net benefit of pounds 4bn could be delivered to the UK economy through energy savings, the report finds.

This would require the roll out of display energy certificates (DECs) and energy performance certificates (EPCs) to all non-domestic buildings by 2015 to provide transparency of energy performance across the sector.

The Carbon Trust also proposes that all cost-effective energy efficiency measures, such as lighting and heating controls, must be implemented across all 1.8 million non-domestic buildings in the UK within the next 10 years.

Beyond 2020, more costly measures - such as triple glazing and ground source heat pumps - must become standard in both new and existing buildings, alongside continued de-carbonisation of the UK's electricity grid.

Designers and developers of new buildings will need to take a more holistic and integrated approach, reducing energy demand by making better use of natural light and ventilation.

The report also identifies barriers that need to be overcome, such as energy costs being seen as marginal by building developers and operators, non-compliance with building regulations and the landlord-tenant divide. …