Over 100 leading businesses have joined the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) in writing to the Prime Minister expressing their “serious concern” in response to recent announcements that weaken key green policies such as the phasing out of gas boilers and insulating private rented homes. 

The letter outlines how the rollbacks are a “blow to green investment and sustainable businesses” and urge government to reconsider and to “urgently put in place the investment and policies to make upgrading Britain’s homes affordable.” The letter also outlines how this is not just a blow to business but will devastate “the high proportion of renters in fuel poverty with huge energy bills in cold, damp, un-insulated homes.”  

Simon McWhirter, Deputy Chief Executive at UKGBC comments:

It’s beyond disappointing and simply reckless to see this false narrative from government that delaying climate action would reduce costs to households. Decisions now – whether around retrofit or the quality of our new buildings – will dictate the quality and legacy of what we’re able to achieve for generations. Delaying policies just means they’ll have to be implemented much faster, later, pushing up the cost for everyone – householders and businesses alike.  

As a sector and as a country what we need from government now is certainty, predictability and clarity in the drive towards a net zero and ecologically sound future.” 

Signatories to the letter, including some of the most influential businesses in the built environment sector including: Laing O’Rourke Construction Ltd, BNP Paribas Real Estate, Landsec, BAM, Buro Happold, Grosvenor, Avison Young, Great Portland, Knight Frank, AECOM, Clarion, and CBRE.

Tor Burrows, Group Sustainability Director, Grosvenor 

Diluting the UK’s commitment to net zero is not the way to build our economy, create jobs or address climate change. Businesses desperately need clarity and stability to help them plan how they will invest in green practices, tech and skills. Without this we risk losing out on crucial investment which will ease the cost of living and increase the country’s global reputation and competitiveness. Changing course and pursuing a tactical agenda sends all the wrong signals and risks the many benefits an ambitious and essential climate agenda could bring people, the country and the planet.” 

Jonathan Gibson, Principal & Global Director, ESG, Avison Young, said:

Environmental sustainability should always be a top priority in government policies. The recent decision by the UK Prime Minister to reverse crucial net zero policies is deeply concerning, and it raises questions about our commitment to combat climate change.  

“Avison Young fully supports the UKGBC’s letter to Rishi Sunak, endorsing policies that drive the UK’s transition to net zero emissions. These policies have a tangible impact on people’s lives, from enhancing the comfort of homes to reducing energy bills. They also play a crucial role in job creation and training within vital industries, contributing to the long-term success of our cities and fostering innovation in the business community. Furthermore, these policies address the urgent need to adapt our built environment to safeguard livelihoods and enhance resilience. Such essential work relies on sustained, forward-looking policies to catalyse large-scale investments. 

“While we understand the challenges posed by the cost-of-living crisis and approaching elections, we must not compromise our long-term sustainability goals for short-term political gains. Instead, I urge the incoming government, especially in the context of the forthcoming general elections, to reconsider this regressive stance on net zero policies and demonstrate a genuine commitment to tackling climate change. Our collective future hinges on bold action, and we must actively pursue a cleaner, more sustainable world for the well-being of all.” 

Despite recent policy setbacks, those at the forefront of climate action in the built environment continue to tackle the challenge head-on. Last week (Thursday 28th September) the Buildings Mission Zero Network launched the first of two reports supporting the decarbonisation of the Built Environment - ‘Mission Retrofit’ -  co-authored by The Rt Hon Chris Skidmore OBE, author of the government’s independent review of Net Zero, and Chair of the Mission Zero Coalition, and Simon McWhirter, Deputy Chief Executive of UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).The report takes forward recommendations from the Mission Zero report, including on how to deliver on an energy efficiency and retrofit mission, as well as identifying new areas of policy focus where the UK could be more ambitious, or deliver more effective outcomes for the buildings industry.