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New Green Construction Board must ‘change attitudes’ to be effective

The industry has welcomed the government’s formation of a Green Construction Board but warned it must be given enough power to deliver change.

The government’s response to the IGT Low Carbon Construction report details a roll-out of industry plans to cut carbon, the potential to force homeowners to commit to ‘greening’ their homes when undertaking building work and the establishment of a joint government and industry Green Construction Board.

Construction minister Mark Prisk (pictured) said: “We will establish a new joint government and industry board to ensure that the action plan contained in this response is implemented and continues to grow and develop to ensure its ongoing relevance.”

However, Construction Industry Council chief executive Graham Watts warned the GCB will be a new body in an already fragmented landscape that includes the UK Green Building Council, Zero Carbon Hub and Strategic Forum for Construction.

He said: “Contractors are already taking carbon seriously and they have directors of sustainability to drive processes in the same way there was a drive for health and safety before that.

“They don’t need to be told what they should be doing; I would see the board as being more of a way of changing attitudes and the culture among clients.

“Industry provides them with facilities, but it is about moving towards how those facilities are managed over the next 30 to 40 years that is crucial.”

UKGBC chief executive Paul King said he had been pleasantly surprised by the government’s response to the IGT report, which he said was clearer in setting out timeframes for moving towards a low-carbon future than many people had expected.

Asked if he would be interested in a role on the GCB, Mr King said he would be keen to see business leaders involved rather than only trade body representatives.

“Major change won’t happen overnight but if there is a genuine commitment to a body that will drive change that will be very welcome. Their immediate priority has to be to simplify the agenda, as what industry craves most is clarity and certainty.”

The government’s response highlights the UKGBC’s role in creating a business plan to help the sector achieve a 50 per cent reduction in emissions.