May vows to halve energy usage in new buildings

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Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged that the energy usage of new buildings will be halved by 2030

The pledge was outlined in an extensive speech on science and the industrial strategy, delivered by May yesterday (21 May) at the Jodrell Bank radio telescope observatory in Cheshire.

She said improving energy efficiency was the first “mission” to meeting the clean growth, “grand challenge”, one of the four outlined in the industrial strategy, which was published last year.

May described the goal of the mission was to use “new technologies and modern construction practices” to “at least” halve the energy usage of new buildings by 2030.

She said that the government also aimed to halve the costs of reaching the same standard in existing buildings.

“By making our buildings more energy efficient and embracing smart technologies, we can slash household energy bills, reduce demand for energy, and meet our targets for carbon reduction.

“By halving the energy use of new buildings – both commercial and residential – we could reduce the energy bills for their occupants by as much as 50%,” May outlined.

The PM said that meeting this challenge would drive innovation and higher standards in the construction sector.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council welcomed the prime minister’s announcement on energy efficiency but cautioned that it had to be backed up by concrete measures.

She said: “Addressing the energy used in new and existing buildings will be central to delivering clean growth and can only be achieved with strong leadership from government working in close partnership with the industry.

“Now this mission has been set, it will be vital to underpin it with clear and consistent policies. Government should set a trajectory for building regulations to achieve net zero carbon from 2030, as well as introducing long-term incentives for retrofitting homes and commercial buildings.

“These market signals will be key in driving investment and innovation in the supply chain to meet these challenges and get us on track to meeting the Paris Agreement.”

Also in response to May’s speech, Dr Diana Montgomery, Construction Products Association chief executive, said: “The importance of this announcement cannot be underestimated. Our sector employs over 333,000 people and advances will drive a more sustainable, higher skilled workforce. This is a significant opportunity for us and I am pleased construction products have been identified as a contributor towards the UK’s clean growth.

“The Industrial Strategy asked us to develop a long-term vision with government. We have stepped forward to demonstrate industry-led innovation, skills for the future, and how the UK can be at the forefront of global construction.

“Advances to halve the energy used by a new building would contribute towards the level of quality and innovation in construction, ultimately saving money for the consumer and giving them more control over how they save energy. Construction products shape the buildings we use and in delivering this mission from government we can have a positive impact on the built environment.”

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