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Government green building policies criticised by UKGBC

The UK Green Building Council’s chief executive has hit out at the governnment’s “half-baked policies” or “contradictory messages” on green building.

In its Government’s Green Building Report Card, the UKGBC graded the government based on policy areas including overarching strategy, procurement and leadership.

The government was given a D+ for its overarching strategy, but the council report criticised chancellor George Osborne for showing “a complete lack of understanding of the green growth opportunity”.

UKGBC chief executive Paul King said: “Grant Shapps recently repeated the claim that this would be the greenest government ever, citing the zero-carbon homes policy as evidence.

“Judging by our report card, the government has slipped behind with its homework.

“In so many policy areas, good ideas or grand ambitions are being undermined by half-baked policies or contradictory messages, revealing the tensions that exist in government between those who realise the opportunity that green growth presents, and those who are still living in the dark ages.

“With a ‘back to school’ feel about the government, and new ministers in many departments, there is clearly plenty of room for improvement all round.”

The ‘report card’ gave the government a high mark of ‘A minus’ for its ‘reporting requirements’, and stated: “The commitment to mandatory greenhouse gas reporting (including big companies in the construction and property sector) was a welcome one.

“Although care needs to be taken to clarify potential areas of overlap with the Carbon Reduction Commitment.”

However the government’s lowest score from the UKGBC was for zero-carbon new homes, which received an ‘E minus’.

The UKGBC said: “When Grant Shapps became housing minister he promised to do two things.

“Firstly to maintain the ambition of the last government’s zero-carbon homes policy and secondly to clarify the definition of what constitutes ‘zero carbon’ by the end of summer 2010.

“He left the post two years later with the ambition of the policy significantly scaled back and the definition still up in the air.

“Government has put the Code for Sustainable Homes up for review, raising questions about environmental standards.”

Prime minister David Cameron defended the government’s ‘green’ record last week when taking questions from MPs.

He said: “What I would say… is that it is this government who set up a green investment bank with £3 billion to spend and this government who have committed £1bn to carbon capture and storage.

“We have the first incentive scheme anywhere in the world for renewable heat, we are putting money into low emission vehicles, we have the mass roll-out of smart meters and we are also the first government to introduce a carbon floor price.

“Those are all steps of a government committed to the green agenda.”

However the UKGBC report card gave the government a ‘C’ for its procurement and leadership.

The organisation said: “Some good progress, other very worrying behaviour. Full marks for government beating its own target of cutting carbon by 10 per cent in a year for its Whitehall estate and now targeting a 25 per cent cut by 2015.

“Contrasts sharply with the short-sighted attempts by Michael Gove to scrap the use of BREEAM in schools.”

Mr King criticised the government’s recent planning reforms when he stated the “reckless hacking back of the planning system just smacks of panic - coming months after the biggest shake-up to the system in a generation”.

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