UK - The UK government is to examine existing buildings as part of a 'greening' agenda dominated to date by concerns over new-build standards.

The All-Party Urban Development Group, a regeneration committee, is calling for expert testimony aimed at "exploring how cities can work with property owners and their occupiers to help green commercial buildings".

Despite the emphasis on development, new buildings make up at most 2% of total UK stock. "You can only achieve so much by greening new buildings," said Patrick Brown, sustainability policy officer at the British Property Federation.

The effective taskforce will look at the environmental impact of urban non-domestic buildings with a view to government action aimed at energy efficiency and reducing emissions. Policy initiatives recommended could include regulation, fiscal incentives, penalties and awareness campaigns.

"New building standards take time but the management of buildings can be addressed now if we concentrate on energy usage and improve transparency," said Brown. "The group will look across the array to improve existing buildings, and we're looking at all non-domestic buildings."

Although all-party groups have no formal powers, they represent an informal cross-party mechanism designed to influence government policies with recommendations based on expert testimony. At this stage it isn't clear who the committee will call as witnesses, though these are expected to include industry leaders and senior civil servants.

In separate news, the European Commission's Directorate General for Energy and Transport has called on European retail property investors to provide ideas for sustainable shopping centres.

The call, made at the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) European conference last week, came with the warning of higher fuel costs cushioned to date by the strength of the euro. Around 140 European cities have pledged to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020.