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Government unveils new net-zero support for buildings

Towards the end of 2019 the Government unveiled new measures to decarbonise buildings and all modes of transport to demonstrate commitment to reaching  net-zero carbon by 2050.

To support these measures the UK Government has allocated £2bn to decarbonisation projects since the amendment to the 2008 Climate Change Act was ratified, with significant amounts of funding being allocated across the fields of hydrogen, carbon capture and green finance.

The measures include a proposal for all rented commercial building to be required to operate at a minimum energy efficiency standard of EPC band B by 2030. The Government claims this measure alone could save businesses £1bn per year in energy bills.

A consultation on the introduction of mandatory “in-use” energy performance ratings for all business buildings will take place this year.

Other key facets of the Committee on Climate Change’s initial recommendations were tech-based, emerging solutions including energy storage and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCS). The organisation has continually stated that the adoption of both of these technologies, as well as hydrogen, will be a “necessity” in meeting net-zero.

Reacting to the Government’s net-zero report response, the Renewable Energy Association’s chief executive Nina Skorupska said: “The CCC was right to highlight the inefficiency of the current disjointed approach; achieving our legally binding carbon targets cannot and should not be the sole responsibility of a handful of departments across the Government.

“Responsibility and accountability for implementing the policies and infrastructure urgently needed to address the climate emergency must sit at the top, with No 10 and the Cabinet Office. The Government must treat this as an emergency and must oversee the delivery.”

The Solar Trade Association’s chief executive Chris Hewett said: “We are pleased to see that the government has taken our feedback on energy storage on board. This is a promising step forward for enabling energy storage to be connected more swiftly and giving local communities a stronger voice in determining which developments are right for them. Energy storage is safe, low-impact, and essential for delivering on the UK’s legally binding net-zero commitments.”

The UK Green Buildings Council’s chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said: “Today’s announcement is most encouraging, as we have long called for more ambitious policies to improve the energy performance of our commercial buildings. It is also a welcome complement to the Government’s recently announced plans to strengthen energy efficiency standards for new homes – and shows that they are finally understanding the importance of tackling buildings emissions as we strive to meet our climate targets.

“By signalling a long-term Band B target for rented commercial buildings, the Government is providing welcome certainty, which will help underpin businesses’ energy improvement plans and the supporting investment decisions. As the market has already shown, minimum standards for rented buildings can have a transformative effect on their performance.

“We are also pleased to see the Government, at last, acknowledging the importance of mandatory operational energy ratings for commercial buildings.”

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