Clean Growth – A Grand Challenge

Sarah Cary, Head of Sustainable Places at British Land, reviews the role of supportive government regulation for the real estate and construction sector.

This blog is part of series published in the lead up to the launch of an Aldersgate Group commissioned report by BuroHappold Engineering Help or Hindrance? Environmental regulations and competitiveness.

The Government’s Industrial Strategy, which launched recently, identified four Grand Challenges to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future. One of these is clean growth. British Land is supportive of Government regulation to drive carbon efficiency in real estate and construction, helping the UK to lead the world in developing low-carbon systems and services.

A clear medium-term vision for future energy and carbon policy will drive millions into construction product innovation investment and upskilling for hundreds of thousands of workers. And, in challenging the industry to innovate, Government creates an opportunity for UK architects and manufacturers to become global leaders in energy efficient building design.

British Land is pleased to support the Aldersgate Group report Help or hindrance? Environmental Regulations and Competitiveness which will be launched this Thursday. This identifies how environmental regulation has led to the creation of jobs in research and development, as well as to supply chain diversification. In the waste sector, whole new business models have been created, associated with recovering and recycling construction waste.

British Land has seen how medium-term regulation can drive growth, giving business the certainty to plan and innovate. Through the Government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme, we identified opportunities to save occupiers £3.7m net over four years, at the same time as optimising lighting, temperatures and air quality for people in our buildings (more here). And, as a result of the Government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, we analysed Energy Performance Certificate ratings across our portfolio to proactively manage potential risks to value (more here).

As Head of Sustainable Places at British Land, there are two areas where I would welcome the Government looking at medium-term regulation of the built environment to drive innovation and low carbon technologies:

Clarifying the future taxation for business energy use, as this wasn’t set out in the last Budget. If business had clarity on medium-term tax increases for carbon, we could invest more in energy efficiency now.

For the review of Building Regulations, which is being undertaken with an eye to fire safety, to also include energy efficiency, as they are linked. There is a real opportunity to both improve fire safety and reduce carbon emissions from buildings. We support the UK Green Building Council’s call to require all new homes and other buildings to be ‘net zero carbon’ from 2030, with a managed transition from 2020 onwards.

More on the Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges here.

More on the UK GBC Clean Growth Strategy recommendations here.

Sarah Cary is Head of Sustainable Places at British Land