“The IGT’s report is a hugely significant analysis of the steps required to deliver a low carbon future in the UK and is expected to play a key role in setting the country’s green agenda between now and 2050, when the government must meet its legal obligation to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent.
“The benefits of a wider green economy are clearly recognised by the IGT as an important area of sustainable growth. The construction industry has a critical role to play in this and must seize the opportunity to deliver the solutions needed to ensure a more sustainable built environment.
“The report highlights the challenges which must be overcome to make this vision a reality. These include better collaboration throughout the supply chain and between industry and government, ensuring that construction professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills required to deliver more sustainable solutions and educating consumers about the opportunities to improve carbon performance in their own homes to stimulate market demand. Importantly, it also highlights innovation as a key success factor, promoting new ways of working and the acquisition of knowledge and skills as a vital tool to reinforce the UK’s reputation as a world leader in sustainable design.
“As well as calling for a focus on carbon accounting in buildings, the report now explicitly states that additional aspects of sustainability need to be taken into account in order to achieve optimum performance, which is a positive development. Improving the efficiency of existing buildings represents one of the biggest challenges and opportunities. The recommendation that all non-domestic buildings have an EPC-rating of F or above by 2020 is a step in the right direction and initiatives such as the National Refurbishment Centre (NRC), which Saint-Gobain is a partner in, will play a vital role in addressing the challenge of reducing carbon emissions through sustainable refurbishment. Acting as a catalyst for the refurbishment agenda in the UK and providing members with reliable and impartial information on upgrading buildings, the NRC will use best practice to identify the right solutions to deliver sustainable refurbishment and will help to focus government and industry on adopting the quickest route to zero carbon, with a fabric first approach to ensure the best results.
“As a company, Saint-Gobain is constantly innovating and seeking new ways to address tomorrow’s challenges but we also recognise that it is just as important to tackle the issues facing us today in terms of energy, buildings and the environment. As well as providing a wide range of products and systems with the capability to make a real difference to the country’s environmental performance, creating great places to live and work, we are also committed to providing the training and skills needed to help deliver the green building agenda. We have an extensive training programme which we are investing heavily in. Our manufacturing businesses are expanding their existing training facilities to develop a national network of training academies which will inform the industry about how to deliver more sustainable built environments for decades to come. In addition, Jewson and its sister distribution brands will soon be launching their first dedicated training facility, the ‘Greenworks Training Academy’.
“In order to take advantage of the sustainable solutions which are available now and into the future to ensure that the UK reduces carbon emissions at the rate required to meet 2050 targets, the right policy framework needs to be in place to generate the necessary ‘clarity, co-operation and confidence’ (to use the words of the IGT report). Financial incentives, backed up by adequate regulations and enforcement when necessary must be implemented. We are encouraged by the government’s positive reaction so far to the report. We await the introduction of the government’s new Energy, Security and Green Economy Bill, covering the Green Deal for homes and other buildings, which we expect to be the next important step on the journey to enable the delivery of this ambitious but compelling programme."