Property industry calls for realism on green building standards

10 Dec 2012

Policy area: Sustainability

The SPF today welcomed the reconvention of the Sullivan Committee to consider how to make Scottish buildings more energy efficient, but warned that ever increasing demands on building standards may make new development even harder to deliver, and could undermine efforts to gain a higher proportion of energy efficient properties in the built environment. 

Government research is reported to say that non-domestic buildings may have to reduce their carbon emissions by a further 40 per cent beyond present day standards, despite offices already having reduced their emissions by 70 per cent since 1990.

In response the SPF warned that the world has vastly changed since 2007 when the Sullivan Committee earmarked an ambitious direction of regulatory change for the property industry towards zero carbon buildings, and welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to take new independent advice on the role of the built environment and its role in meeting climate change targets and sustainable economic growth.

With property development at historic lows and acting as a drag on the wider economy, increases in regulatory demand on the sector will hamper economic growth. The SPF has warned it may even make the construction of ‘greener’ properties harder to deliver.  Indeed older Scottish commercial properties are set to be regulated for energy efficient improvements at point of sale or lease in 2013, five years ahead of other parts of the UK.

David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation, said: “While we will engage further with the Scottish Government as part of the new year consultation, we question the intention to raise these standards higher in the current economic climate where little new development, already built to standards that for offices are achieving reduce carbon emissions of 70 per cent compared to the 1990 benchmark, is actually taking place.  

"The risk is that by making new buildings too difficult to deliver for the purposes of development appraisal we will see a reduction in the proportion of more energy efficiency properties in the built environment, as opposed to an increase.”