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CIBSE response to 10-point plan on green industrial revolution

Government has published this week their 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, which is meant to support the UK’s net zero carbon target as well as creating and supporting up to 250,000 British jobs and “levelling up” the country.  

CIBSE broadly welcomes the plan, which in its headlines covers four of the five investment priorities highlighted by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) [1]: low-carbon retrofit; energy infrastructure; low-carbon modes of transport; investing in nature. Government has also responded to the CCC’s advice by announcing a new Green Jobs taskforce.

In particular, some of the measures such as offshore wind capacity, commitments on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, and support for low-impact transport, are much needed and can deliver numerous benefits to air quality and health and wellbeing, beyond carbon emissions reductions alone.

CIBSE welcomes the ambition of the ten points. What is now needed to support the initial announcement is a clear plan setting out the detailed policy and financial frameworks. In addition,  the plan must be accompanied by detail and translated into the policy and financial framework.

Strong governance is needed, particularly on the natural environment: this requires urgent progress on the Environment Bill to avoid a gap at the end of the Brexit transition period. The Bill must also ensure the independence of the Office for Environment Protection.

The plan offers far too little on buildings, and in particular about energy demand reduction and energy efficiency: buildings are repeatedly highlighted by the CCC as a critical focus area for decarbonisation policy where significant effort will be needed to deliver net zero outcomes.

Investment into renewables and hydrogen production must not detract from the facts, as stressed by the National Grid Future Energy Scenarios: “we can only meet net zero by 2050 if we improve the energy efficiency of homes, buildings and businesses, and build ultra-efficient new buildings” [2]

Furthermore, the government’s own plan shows that, even at its current small share of funding, decarbonisation of the building sector has the capacity to deliver large number of jobs, on a par with the energy sector at much lower levels of investment. 

The plan includes an announcement that the Green Homes Grant will be extended. CIBSE welcome this, provided that timescales for the current funding pot are also extended: the current 6-month window is unrealistic for many projects, and an extension would allow competence and quality requirements to be met by a growing number of businesses.

We also recommend reviewing the criteria so that PAS 2035 would not only be required for a small number of cases (e.g. high-rise buildings and buildings that are both protected and traditionally constructed). PAS 2035 promotes a whole-house approach to reduce the risk of detrimental consequences for the health and comfort of residents. It also requires the production of longer-term retrofit plans, to assist households on how best to spend their money today, and what to do when future opportunities occur.

Supply chain limitations to meet PAS 2035 are not a reason to avoid it; they are precisely one of the areas that needs to be tackled in order to allow good quality retrofit at scale in the coming years. The Green Homes Grants, if modified, offer the opportunity to incentivise investment to meet the requirements of PAS 2035.

Public funds on this scale must seek to return as much value as possible i.e. ensuring quality, evaluating post-project performance, and building the supply chain for later, larger programmes and consumers should enjoy the full protection of PAS 2035 for any work undertaken.

CIBSE therefore welcome the plan, and we urgently call for more comprehensive and detailed proposals for the building sector, and especially the existing stock. It will take time to deliver and do it well, which is why we must start now.

[1] CCC 2020 Progress report to Parliament https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/reducing-uk-emissions-2020-progress-report-to-parliament/
[2] National Grid ESO, 4th August 2020 https://www.nationalgrideso.com/news/fes-2020-how-could-net-zero-change-our-homes