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Joint low carbon construction plan
Business Minister Mark Prisk this week outlined how the Government and the construction industry will work together to decarbonise the built environment by 2050, including establishing a new Government and industry board to ensure that this action plan is implemented.

The action plan includes the publication of an updated Carbon Plan – the Plan for Growth published in March provided greater certainty around the definition of ‘zero carbon’ for new homes. The Government also extended the Green Deal to include non-domestic properties and announced plans to use fiscal incentives for renewable heat systems.

From autumn 2011 the Government will publish quarterly a two-year forward programme of infrastructure projects to give more certainty to the sector to invest in low carbon. The Prime Minister has confirmed his commitment to the Better Public Building Awards which will have a new focus on low carbon to promote best practice. Via UK Trade and Investment the Government will also ensure most is made of overseas markets.

Mark Prisk said: “An efficient, effective and profitable construction industry is at the heart of any growing economy.

“Meeting the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon will affect every aspect of the built environment and has the potential to provide the construction industry with a 40-year programme of work creating great opportunities for growth in the sector.

“Through this joint Government and industry action plan we are making a clear commitment to the low carbon transition which will create the certainty needed for construction companies to invest in essential new skills, processes and products.”

The plan was welcomed by industry. The National Insulation Association (NIA) said the proposal to establish a joint Government and industry board will provide the framework for the development of a low carbon construction delivery plan to decarbonise the built environment by 2050.

Neil Marshall, chief executive of the NIA, said: “The creation of the board is welcomed by the insulation industry and we look forward to working with the Government in developing a plan to insulate Britain’s housing stock.”

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “It’s good that the Government recognises the vital role the construction industry will play in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“However, the CBI has serious concerns about the financing and take-up of the Green Deal, and we are calling on the Government to stimulate both consumer and business interest.”

The Federation of Master Builders welcomes Government plans to launch a consultation on mandatory energy efficiency upgrades provided they are coupled with a targeted VAT reduction on the price of installation.

Brian Berry, FMB director of external affairs, said: “The FMB believes that with the right incentives, including the Green Deal finance package and a reduced rate of VAT on the improvement work, households would welcome the opportunity to make their home more energy efficient and save money on their fuel bills.”

Paul King, CEO, UK Green Building Council, said: “With [this] announcement, government has put in place a solid foundation for building a new relationship with industry. The IGT said we needed a shared action plan and joint oversight of that plan – and government has listened.

The plan is the Government’s response to the industry’s Innovation Growth Team report, presented by Government chief construction advisor Paul Morrell in November.

Paul Morrell said: “I am delighted that the Government has taken on board so many of the recommendations from the IGT report which was developed with expertise from across industry.

“To ensure that construction rises to the low carbon challenge we need to continue this new level of cooperation so I am also pleased that a joint Government and industry board has been set up to ensure implementation of this plan.”

A copy of the Government’s response to the Low Carbon Construction Innovation and Growth Team Report can be found at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/constructionigt