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BESA backs zero carbon goals

The government should adopt the ambitious zero carbon targets recommended by an influential parliamentary committee, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).

The Association said the advice published by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) was “eminently achievable”. It encouraged adoption of the cross-party parliamentary committee’s key proposals including making all new buildings net zero carbon within a decade and widespread adoption of low carbon heating solutions.

The CCC said that a 100 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions should be legislated “as soon as possible” adding that it could be achieved at the same cost as the measures contained in the Climate Change Act i.e. one to two per cent of GDP. However, Energy Secretary Greg Clark has yet to commit the government to adopting the CCC’s advice while pledging to “ensure the UK continues to be a world leader in tackling climate change”.

The committee called for major improvements to the insulation and energy efficiency of existing buildings as well as a comprehensive move away from fossil fuel-based heating. It estimates that the transition to green heating systems will cost about £15bn a year up to 2050 and would involve widespread adoption of heat pumps in place of conventional boiler driven central heating and accelerating the use of district heating and hydrogen.

“This is a huge moment for our industry,” said BESA president Tim Hopkinson. “All of these things are achievable and the building engineering sector is in the vanguard of zero carbon action. Additional policy levers will allow us to go further and faster, but we are already delivering low carbon heating solutions; energy efficiency and clean energy projects up and down the country.

“We embrace this vision and that of the climate change activists, who recently took to the streets to champion this issue. However, we would stress to them that we are already on the right track. In 2017, overall emissions had fallen by 43 per cent since 1990 and the building engineering sector has played a key part,” said Mr Hopkinson.

“We acknowledge the need to go further and faster and, if the government turns the CCC recommendations into policy, we can.”

Earlier this week, CCC vice chair Baroness Brown of Cambridge told a gathering of building services engineers at the House of Lords that buildings should be a key focus of future government policy because they were responsible for a quarter of the country’s total CO2 emissions.

She told the annual meeting of the CIBSE Patrons “this is an area where we know we can get to ‘real’ zero – not just ‘net’ zero – over the next 30 years”. However, she warned that it would require a major transition “as we have the worst insulated homes in Europe and the highest proportion of housing connected to the gas grid”.

16 May 2019

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