UK’s Adopted Policies Boost Green Building Market

The green building market is gaining great momentum in the United Kingdom as both public and private sectors are embracing eco-friendly practices. According to a report by the International Trade Administration, public policies have placed sustainable construction at the heart of the UK’s efforts to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. The 2011 UK Carbon Plan acknowledges that improving energy efficiency across sectors will be required to achieve national goals.

According to the report, the UK industry has embraced sustainable construction. A recent industry survey of construction stakeholders in the UK showed a 14 percent gain in the number of companies that expect to do more than 60 percent of their projects in green projects by 2018. Interestingly, the same survey also showed a small enduring segment of the industry that does not currently do any green projects and does not envision doing green projects by 2018. Moving this small segment of the industry may require new types of measures or incentives. The top sectors in which respondents in the above mentioned survey plan to do green projects by 2018 include: Retrofits of existing buildings (44 percent); New low-rise residential buildings (40 percent); and New institutional buildings (37 percent).

The report adds that the UK government is heavily supporting building of new homes in 2016 through 2017, which is expected to further increase UK construction activity, as above noted. In support of intelligent buildings, smart meters will be rolled out as standard across the country by 2020. The government is also working to advance building performance from a perspective of resilience. By 2021, the UK government has pledged to spend USD2.82 billion for over 1,500 flood defense schemes across the country.

“Smart meters will be rolled out as standard across the country by 2020”

Meanwhile, the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has recently published a green paper proposing a key leadership role for cities and local authorities in supporting the delivery of sustainable new homes and communities. The paper follows the scaling back of ambitions for zero carbon and sustainable new homes by national government in recent years. 2015 saw the scrapping of the Zero Carbon 2016 target – a policy which had been in place for nearly ten years – and the wind-down of the Code for Sustainable Homes – the key tool that developers and planners used to promote sustainable development in new build housing.

In addition, the UK-GBC paper examines what local authorities in the UK can do, under their existing powers, to improve the standards of new-build housing in their area, as well as what they can do as landowners. It suggests that local authorities can take a lead by, for example, requiring higher building standards on their own land, using tools like Open Book Viability, running energy companies, and a range of other policy innovations. It also reviews what devolution deals could offer, considering the potential for cities to develop spatial plans for the whole area; work with industry to develop standards for higher quality homes; and bring budgets together to tackle health and housing issues holistically.

ACW Content & Research Team