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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 00:34 GMT
Building sector sets green goals
Green building (Image: Bennetts Associates)
Sustainable building make better use of natural light and ventilation
Some of the UK's leading property and construction firms are joining forces to limit the environmental impact of the nation's homes and offices.

They have formed the UK Green Building Council, with the aim of transforming the 90bn sector into a "sustainable industry with the next 10 years".

Buildings account for about 50% of the UK's annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The government recently announced proposals to make all new homes in England carbon neutral by 2016.

Peter Rogers, the council's chairman, said that the initiative hoped to change attitudes towards energy consumption.

"We are still living in a horsepower economy. People like big cars, powerful things, lots of lights and devices in the house," he said.

"You can still do all of that, but everyone needs to recognise that we have to do it in an energy efficient way."

'Wrong way'

The group, whose 36 members include Barratt Homes, Land Securities Group, Nationwide Building Society and WWF, has a combined annual turnover of more than 30bn.

It has set itself a mission to dramatically improve "the sustainability of the built environment by radically transforming the way it is planned, designed, constructed, maintained and operated".

Mr Rogers, who also is a director of development firm Stanhope, said his clients were still asking for more power in buildings.

Building site (Image: BBC)
If we carry on developing out-of-towns it will have a disastrous effect
Peter Rogers,
UK Green Building Council

"We are going the wrong way. It is not helping us get more energy efficient buildings."

He said that the current trend in the building sector meant that the government target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 60% from 1990 levels by 2050 was unlikely to be achieved.

In December, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly announced proposals to make all new homes in England carbon neutral by 2016, in an effort to curb future emission increases.

Mr Rogers said that more attention needed to be paid to existing homes and offices because they would still account for 75% of the buildings in 2050.

"There are nine million wall cavities in this country that have not been filled," he observed. "You could knock 30% of the carbon load out of building industry relatively easy.

"Things such as better insulation, draught exclusion, and encouraging people to switch things off, are all simple measures."

He added that the environmental impact of locating new buildings was an area that would also come under scrutiny.

"It is an absolutely fundamental issue because if we carry on developing out-of-towns it will have a disastrous effect.

"So we have to make sure that all developments are carried out close to public transport in environmentally effective ways," he added.

"That takes the whole picture of sustainability into account; it is not only about carbon but it is about where people live and how they live."

The council is being formally launched on Tuesday at Ecobuild, a green building exhibition at Earl's Court, London.


SEE ALSO
'Zero carbon' homes plan unveiled
13 Dec 06 |  Science/Nature
Wasteful homes 'risk eco-targets'
21 Jul 06 |  Science/Nature

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