The British Property Federation (BPF) is calling on the next UK government to work with the real estate industry to create a comprehensive net zero carbon roadmap for the sector, across all tenures and asset classes, covering both existing and new buildings. 

In a new carbon manifesto, entitled Building a Sustainable Future, the trade association for the UK real estate sector is urging the next government to deliver a sector roadmap for the real estate sector and appoint a single minister with responsibility for net zero buildings.

The BPF estimates that there are around 30m buildings in the UK, many of which it describes as “poorly insulated and inefficient”. The industry organisation adds that more than 90% of homes are still heated by fossil fuels and the latest BPF analysis shows that 84% of commercial spaces with EPC ratings are rated EPC C or below.

“This means that over 175,000 commercial spaces will need to be retrofitted every year between now and 2030 to raise the standard of all commercial buildings to EPC B by the end of the decade,” the BPF added.

To accelerate the transition to a net zero carbon future, the BPF is calling for the next government to take a range of actions, including: 

  • Rebalance gas and electricity costs to speed up the electrification of homes and buildings and encourage the adoption of low carbon heating solutions.
  • Provide clarity on future minimum energy efficiency standards for the domestic and non-domestic private rented sectors, and reform domestic EPCs.
  • Regulate embodied carbon by requiring Whole Life Carbon assessments and reporting.
  • Zero rate VAT on repairs and maintenance of residential buildings and introduce a “Green Super Deduction” to boost investment into retrofitting our homes and buildings.
  • Increase investment into the UK’s electricity grid and speed up grid connections.
  • Simplify and accelerate the installation of rooftop solar on commercial buildings. This could include simplifying planning regulations, providing grants and reviewing tariffs.
  • Ensure that local authorities are properly resourced and skilled to support the net zero transition and ensure the planning system supports a “retrofit first” not “retrofit only” approach.

Closing the data deficit  

Alongside its carbon manifesto, the BPF has published its Closing the Data Deficit research, which investigates the role of data in the net zero transition, explores the challenges faced by the sector in accessing data, examines how technology can help and sets out a series of policy recommendations.

The report sets out a series of recommendations. These include:

  • Mandating the sharing of energy consumption data between property owners and occupiers.
  • Exploring ways in which smart metre data might be shared directly with certain authorised property owners.
  • Exploring whether energy data could be considered a “legitimate interest” within the UK GDPR.
  • Encouraging the use of green leases for new commercial leases and reforming the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to ensure the inclusion of data sharing and provisions in lease renewals which drive energy efficiency.
  • Establishing a new Building Energy Data Taskforce to drive forward action. 

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The UK will not meet its climate commitments unless we decarbonise our buildings, which are responsible for around 25% of all carbon emissions. However, progress has stalled in recent years and we need urgent and decisive action from Government to deliver a net zero carbon property sector by 2050. 

“Our BPF Carbon Manifesto puts the climate centre stage and we offer the next government our support in delivering on our shared net zero ambitions. As our latest research reminds us, we cannot build our way to net zero. We need to significantly increase investment into retrofitting our existing homes and buildings. This will require policy certainty and stability, targeted financial incentives, a properly resourced and skilled planning system and more grid capacity and connectivity.”  

Source: Pexels

Commenting on the ‘Closing the Data Deficit’ research, Mark Gauguier, head of commercial real estate at Farrer & Co, said: “Access to accurate and timely energy data is essential for the commercial property sector to meet the net zero challenge, and the Closing the Data Deficit report lays bare the extent of the barriers to collecting and analysing energy data. We need a holistic policy framework which drives collaboration between owners and tenants in sharing data and jointly working on net zero objectives. 

“We are proud to have supported the Closing the Data Deficit report which calls for all stakeholders – the Government, owners, occupiers, developers and investors and energy and data providers – to work together to tackle this issue.” 

John Inglis, head of net zero at Get Living, said: “Improving the accessibility of energy data is central to Get Living’s planned engagement with our residents, retailers, investors and regulators. We are pleased to have supported the BPF’s work, which will help to build consensus and ambition for the wider transition to a low carbon economy.”

Sarah Pan Larsson, partnerships and commercial director at Position Green, said: “We are pleased to have supported this important research. As a software business, we understand the importance of data and its role in decarbonising our buildings. We look forward to working with the BPF to explore how technology can help overcome the data collection challenges highlighted in the report.”

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