Government enquiry into commercial emissions

26 April 2008

The all-party inquiry follows concerns that not enough is being done to tackle emissions from the sector.

There is no target on emissions from commercial buildings, which account for about 20% of the UK 's CO2 output.

It will call for submissions from stakeholders on reforms to reduce the energy use of existing buildings and report to the government in the summer.


"Debate has so far largely focused on the carbon footprint of people's homes," said Labour MP Clive Betts, chairman of the All Party Urban Development Group which is undertaking the inquiry.

"Less attention has been paid to the energy efficiency of commercial buildings," he said.

"This inquiry will help fill that gap by exploring how cities can work with property owners and their occupiers to help 'green' commercial buildings."

Because commercial buildings are so varied - encompassing everything from small shops to office buildings and factories - it is particularly difficult to tackle CO2 emissions from the sector.


The group's spokesman said the inquiry would call for the government to provide "clear guidance, fiscal incentives and a unified system of assessment and reporting".

He said the group did not want to comment on specific measures until the completion of their report.

Although there are no targets for cutting emissions, there are already measures in place to encourage businesses to cut their output.

From October all commercial buildings in England and Wales will be required to have an assessment of their building's energy efficiency and display the resulting Energy Performance Certificate in a prominent place.


There are no caps or penalties associated with the rating, but it is hoped the public recognition of companies with greener premises will encourage firms to improve their emissions.

"If you are a high street bank with a very green public face, you will not want to be seen in a very inefficient building," said the group's spokesman.

From 2010, there will also be a requirement that all companies in the UK with electricity bills over £500,000 cap their emissions - this will cover 70% of all commercial properties.

The government has already made a commitment that all newly built domestic properties will be carbon neutral by 2016.

The Department of Communities and Local Government is to launch a consultation that by 2019 all newly-built commercial buildings will also be carbon neutral.



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