An ambitious Fourth Carbon Budget for 2023-2027 was announced in May, outlining a tougher carbon emissions reduction strategy for the UK.
The statement by Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, committed the government to a legally binding reduction of 50% of carbon emissions by 2025, a far more ambitious goal than the European Union’s target of a 20% reduction by 2020 (PDF).
Households and businesses will be increasingly incentivised to invest in improving the energy efficiency of the buildings where we live and work, because buildings are where the most cost-effective opportunities for Carbon emissions reductions lie, as verified by the IPCC’s (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 2007 report.
There is an increasingly well-recognised series of priorities for reducing CO2 emissions from buildings and these are shown below:
- Low carbon ‘passive’ design measures such as: exploiting natural daylight to reduce the need for electric lighting; using shading louvers and blinds to control unwanted overheating; increasing insulation, minimising draughts and air leakage; installing efficient windows; and relying on natural ventilation. Considering use of the building’s structure (thermal mass) to help moderate fluctuations in temperature.
- Energy efficiency measures such as highly efficient heating and lighting (e.g. LEDs or high-efficiency fluorescents), the use of more sophisticated controls such as timers, daylight and presence detectors to automatically dim or switch off lights when not needed, and energy efficient appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and PCs.
- Low carbon and renewable energy generation: such as solar hot water, photovoltaic panels and ground source heat pumps.
So we have the technology, and we know what to do, and now there are a range of new government backed financial incentives to help cover the cost of investing in energy efficiency and renewables such as: the Feed-In-Tariff, the Renewable Heat Incentive, the Green Deal and the Green Investment Bank (PDF).
The new targets are certainly challenging, but they also create interesting and realistic opportunities for green growth. Ernst & Young’s 2009 Low Carbon Capital report estimated that green growth in London alone could create 225,000 jobs and a market worth £3.7 billion a year to 2025.
Chris Huhne emphasised the green growth opportunities in announcing the Fourth Carbon Budget, he said “will establish our competitive advantage in the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy, generate jobs and export opportunities in these sectors, maintain energy security and protect our economy from oil price volatility. It is a framework not just for action on climate but for growth and prosperity.”
Faithful+Gould’s Sustainability and Carbon Management team has a proven track record helping its clients realise both the cost savings and environmental benefits of investing in low carbon design, energy efficiency and building integrated renewables. We are working with our clients to plot a cost-effective path to meeting the UK’s new ambitious emissions reduction targets, enabling them to capture a share of the green growth potential in the new low carbon economy.