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UK Green Building Council Outlines Manifesto for Next UK Government

UK Green Building Council Outlines Manifesto for Next UK Government
23 May 2024

The UK Green Building Council has published its general election policy agenda, introducing long-term strategies for change in the built environment.

With a General Election now set for Thursday 4 July 2024, The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has unveiled its four-point policy to guide the incoming government to make active changes to the places where we live and work.

Louise Hutchins, Head of Policy & Public Affairs at the UK Green Building Council said: “The built environment industry stands ready to help as an active partner, but any government wanting to show big tangible improvements will need to put their shoulder behind a much bolder approach than we’ve seen up to now. That means leadership from the top, comprehensive long-term strategies that communities and investors can get behind and a step-change in government investment surgically targeted where it’s most needed.“


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The UKGBC’s manifesto focuses on four areas for change: 


Home Insulation Upgrades


The UKGBC criticises that there is no current national vision or comprehensive strategy to upgrade the UK’s housing stock. Policies such as The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) and other initiatives to encourage more people in England and Wales to install low-carbon heating systems are “not enough”, say the UKGBC.

They propose a ten-year home upgrade programme, with £64 billion of government investment to help fund low-income households and social housing, a national information service, skills training and local authority capacity-building.

They also recommend specific funding for skilled retrofit officers in each council, to help develop local plans and engage with households supply chains.

For homeowners, they want to incentivise good energy performance by reforming the Stamp Duty Land Tax, so rates are dependent on the energy performance of the house, believing this will drive a sustainable market for low-carbon heating systems. Low-income households would receive a “rebate to renovate” reward.


Reform the Planning System


The manifesto describes the current planning system as “inconsistent and unpredictable in the way it treats climate and nature, giving some high-carbon developments the go-ahead and blocking other low-carbon projects.” It also criticises the new ten per cent Biodiversity Net Gain requirement for not going far enough to reduce the impact of the UK construction industry, calling for a 20 per cent minimum instead.

The UKGBC wants a new planning system where developers are compelled to measure and report whole-life carbon emissions, with legal limits on embodied carbon. Where local authorities and developers want to do more, a support framework should be offered. 


Protecting Buildings From Climate Risks


2023 was the warmest year on record globally. Weather events such as storms, heatwaves, droughts, water shortages and hurricanes test our built environment’s resilience on an extreme scale. The UKGBC wants the next government to include climate resilience measures in home retrofit strategies. Homes could be adapted with awnings, blinds, flood barriers, and external shutters to improve overheating and flood resilience.

Another initiative that the UKGBC wants the government to explore is a “3-30-300” tree rule. This means three trees visible from every home, 30 per cent canopy cover in each neighbourhood, and everyone just 300 metres from a green space. 


Renewing Town Centres


With many town centres in deep decline, the UKGBC wants declining and underused premises to be transformed into community spaces. However, current strategies to regenerate high streets through the Towns Fund haven’t reported much success, with less than 20 per cent of projects completed. There is also a lack of support for tenants to upgrade to low-carbon measures.

The UKGBC’s proposed solution is to modernise Stamp Duty Land Tax to reflect the energy performance of commercial premises and reform business rates to support smaller businesses to take up vacant units. The government could also update the VAT framework to favour the reuse of existing buildings rather than new builds.

Picture: a photograph of a piece of paper with some checkbox squares, with the top square ticked with a red pen. Image Credit: Pexels

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 23 May 2024


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