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20/04/2021

Letter to government outlines concerns about Future Buildings Standard

Words: Laura Edgar
Green homes / iStock-1019996228

A coalition of built environment and climate action organisations has sent a letter to the government outlining its concerns about the current Future Buildings Standard, including a failure to set out how to regulate the total energy use of buildings.

Signed by 21 organisations, including the RTPI and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the letter has been sent to Jeremy Pocklington, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The government proposes a Future Buildings Standard to set out a pathway to highly efficient non-domestic buildings which are zero-carbon-ready, better for the environment and fit for the future.

The signatories welcome the direction of travel of the government’s proposition, as well as its ambition to reduce the impact of buildings on the environment. However, they believe that there are “several additional areas that are critical to success in achieving the UK’s net-zero ambition, and with the right decisions, the UK can demonstrate global leadership and create a world-leading built environment sector”.

The Future Buildings Standard consultation, which closed last week, set out that new buildings should be “zero-carbon-ready”. However, the group states that “to help address the climate emergency we must ensure we are constructing “net zero-carbon buildings”.

“Net-zero carbon buildings seek to balance operational energy consumption with the UK grid renewable energy capacity. This means they should minimise their energy demand, including all energy uses. Government must set adequate energy targets to ensure both energy demand and energy consumption are reduced.”

A national retrofit strategy with adequate funding and a clear roadmap for action must be set out by the government, as current retrofit standards lack vision and ambition, it says.

RIBA president Alan Jones said: “The built environment is responsible for approximately 40 per cent of the UK’s total carbon output. Put simply, the proposed Future Buildings Standard does not go far enough to reduce this impact. To reach net-zero carbon emissions, demonstrate global leadership and create a world-leading built environment sector England needs more ambitious regulations. The Future Buildings Standard provides an opportunity to make critical and essential changes: to regulate total energy consumption and set critical targets for actual energy performance and embodied carbon. I urge policymakers to realise its potential.”

The letter can be read in full here on the RIBA website (pdf).

Image credit | iStock

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