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Group advocates green approach to home sales and rentals

The Government should bar homeowners from selling or renting properties unless energy efficiency measures are carried out.

This is the proposal unveiled by G2Action, an alliance of building services industries including insulation, heating and lighting at last week’s All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group meeting.

This would effectively turn energy performance certificates from advisory reports into dictates to homeowners in the market.

G2Action wants to introduce the plan by 2015 and received a warm reception from the Climate Change Group chair Lord Redesdale who added the UK would never reach its climate change targets unless it radically improved policies on existing homes.

“A billion tonnes will have failed to be saved from domestic carbon emissions and this is equivalent to the CO2 pollution from Britain's aviation sector over the next 25 years,” he explained.

“We can either heat our homes and have hot baths, or fly but not both. There really does need to be much tougher policies on reducing carbon emissions from the homes.”

G2Action spokesman Peter Thom added: “The issue is very serious and if we don’t tackle it, all we are left with is empty rhetoric. Legislation will be needed, but we are not talking about introducing it tomorrow or insisting on solar panels on every roof.

“It will be basic energy efficiency measures recommended by EPCs. We would like all parties to agree to adopt it by 2015, that way it won’t be an electoral issue.

“The Great British Refurb was announced with much fanfare, but the Government has not said how it will be paid for. We believe it will be paid for by the consumer through a mechanism like this.”

The proposal also received a cautious welcome from the Federation of Master Builders, which emphasised that it was important to wait until the current housing slump was over before these measures could be implemented.

FMB external affairs director Brian Berry said: “We need to work up to this sort of measure through a series of steps.

“The government is moving in the right direction with the Heat Energy Saving Strategy consultation and the next step will be to get the Treasury on board and get appropriate financial incentives in place, such as cutting VAT for refurb work, or offering council tax rebates. Only when these have been deployed should regulation be considered.”

According to G2Action, carbon from the built environment amounts to approximately a third of the carbon emitted in Britain. It estimates that by 2050 total household carbon dioxide emissions will by around 130 MT p/a if current policies continue, whereas the target figure for 2050 is 30 MT p/a.