UKGBC’s Director of Communications, Policy and Places, Simon McWhirter, said:
“The new Prime Minister is right to promise emergency action to deal with soaring energy bills.
It is vital that Liz Truss tackles energy waste as well as low-carbon supply in her long-term plan if she’s going to get a grip on costs. Homes, businesses, and public buildings are already paying over the odds for heat to leak from every uninsulated window, wall, roof and door. Without a major energy efficiency drive, an emergency subsidy package would mean the Government will also have to foot the bill for years to come.
The Prime Minister can fix many problems by announcing a national programme to upgrade our buildings and shift our heating systems from gas to renewable energy. Not only will it reduce the need for Government borrowing, the skilled jobs and economic boost this would bring would make a real contribution to levelling up and national recovery.
Next on Prime Minister’s agenda must be to gets to grips with the opportunities and challenges which lie within the built environment industry. Despite being the cause of some of the most pressing environmental and social issues confronting the UK, and the second largest source of carbon emissions, no significant progress has been made towards decarbonising the country’s buildings in a decade.
Liz Truss said she wants to get spades in the ground and build hospitals, schools and homes. With hundreds of thousands of new homes and buildings planned over the coming years, we must also urgently stop allowing new development which is not fit for Net Zero and will inevitably need retrofitting in the future to meet our climate goals and to adapt to heatwaves, floods and drought. The Future Homes and Buildings Standard, set to be introduced in 2025, is one short-term opportunity to move in the right direction, yet proposals to date are woefully inadequate.
Finally, our planning system needs an overhaul to reliably deliver the kind of new development we all want – sustainable, quality homes, buildings and infrastructure that are well connected and in the right places. That is why UKGBC is calling on Truss to amend the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to bring the English planning system into line with the UK’s climate commitments and nature recovery goals.
The building industry stands ready to support the new Prime Minister and Government to deliver these national priorities.”
UKGBC wrote to both leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak raising concern that tackling energy waste in our buildings received little attention in the leadership contest, despite being the second largest source of UK emissions and key to bringing energy bills down long term. This letter can be accessed here.