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Friday, July 21, 2006
Greening new development and old
A fair amount coming over the wires this week about greening our building stock. The tide is certainly shifting, but whether all the targets and 'recommendations' go far enough, who knows?

English Partnerships is looking at a proposal to significantly raise the eco-standards it requires of its developments. Details are still thin on the ground, but Margaret Ford did mention the words "low carbon and carbon-neutral". "Things that seemed radical a few years ago are now absolutely mainstream" she said - and its true that the pace of change is really speeding up.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Development Commission (where Jonathan Porritt was re-elected chair this week) said that cutting emissions should focus on existing buildings, a theme already in the news thanks to Building mag's 99% campaign. Anne Power was part of the report team and said that "In the last few months there has been a really big recognition, and almost every ministerial statement on what should happen next now refers to the existing housing stock." They reckon that retro-fitting technology could halve a household's energy use (but at what cost to those like me who own period flats and have no spare cash?) And of course, this comes on top of the news that the new HIPs will have to have energy certificates in them...so those who can't afford to retro-fit will bear the brunt of seeing their property lose value too.

And the Social Market Foundation released a report that says the government should bring in a “green buildings” tax relief system to encourage businesses to reduce the carbon footprint of their properties. Most EU countries already have tax breaks for energy-efficient domestic properties and Germany has relief for non-domestics too.

To reflect on the last two items, why not tax breaks for energy-efficient homes that would offset the cost of all this retro-fitting technology that we will effectively be forced to introduce if we want to sell our homes?

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