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British Property Federation urges government to provide net-zero regulatory roadmap beyond 2030

The government recently published its new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, including a second consultation on the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for commercial property. 

This second consultation sets out a target of an EPC B rating for all commercial properties by 2030, and a new consultation on performance-based energy ratings in large commercial and industrial buildings.

The introduction of new rules on measuring the energy performance of commercial and industrial buildings is a vital step forward according to the British Property Federation, and will play a key role in supporting property owners and occupiers to achieve net zero.

The new performance-based energy ratings will apply in an initial ‘phase one’ to all commercial offices above 1,000 sqm in England and Wales.

According to analysis by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, there are approximately 10,000 office buildings that fit this criteria.

Commercial property investment however is long term and requires a longer-term net-zero plan from the government, says the federation.

To facilitate new investment today into the UK’s town and cities, to support property owners in maximising their contribution to the UK’s net zero goals, the British Property Federation urges the government to provide a net-zero regulatory roadmap beyond 2030.

Alex Green, assistant director (development and sustainability) at British Property Federation, said: “As part of the government’s announcement yesterday unveiling its ambitious blueprint to deliver the world’s first low-carbon industrial sector, the long-awaited consultation on performance-based energy ratings in commercial and industrial buildings has been published.

“Whilst the current system of Energy Performance Certificates has helped drive some improvements, it does not measure the metered energy consumption of buildings – in this respect it does not ensure buildings are operationally energy efficient.

“Instead, requiring owners and single tenants of commercial buildings to obtain operational energy ratings will provide a more accurate picture of annual energy use, and better support property owners and occupiers to work together in achieving net-zero.

“It is important that the government applies this new rating system to other commercial building uses, including retail, in the near future, but with consideration of the unique challenges presented by other building types.

“The commercial property industry is committed to driving positive change for our environment, and accurate measurement of energy use will be key to success.

“The government’s commitment to a new stretching Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard up to 2030 will also act as an important signal to industry, but this is still too short-term in its approach for commercial property investors whose investment decisions today are based on forecasts that span the next several decades to come.

“The government must provide a regulatory roadmap beyond 2030 to support property owners’ investment into our town and city centres.

“Property owners will want to know that their investments and energy saving works are future-proofed for longer than the next nine years.”

Richard Quartermaine, hammerson environmental manager and chair of the BPF Sustainability Committee, added: “Many companies in the sector have already committed to ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, including Hammerson with its Net Positive pledge by 2030.

“To make meaningful and long-lasting change, we need the whole industry to make that commitment and take action. We welcome these initial steps, however, we need all types of property to be focused on. This will be a challenge, however shifting the mind set and accountability on to operational energy consumption is essential, if, as a sector we want to move forward at pace to reach net zero.”

Nils Rage, sustainable design and innovation manager at Landsec commented: “The built environment has a crucial role to play in the path to net zero, but it isn’t a simple one.

“Like many of our peers, we are committed to achieving net zero by 2030. This commitment is underpinned by a robust plan which includes an internal price for carbon. As an industry we need to take ownership of our carbon emissions and not simply push them down the supply chain or rely on off-sets as a path to net zero.

“We welcome the recognition in this announcement of the need to move to a measure that is based on the actual performance of buildings. This is a significant step forward and would move the industry away from a purely compliance-based approach, encouraging much greater ownership of the problem across our industry. We look forward to engaging with it.”