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15 June 2010

Property sector fears 'unrealistic' zero-carbon building targets

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Government definition on what constitutes a zero-carbon home expected this summer

The vast majority of people in the UK's property sector are sceptical about the industry's ability to achieve demanding government targets requiring all new homes to meet zero-carbon standards by 2016.

That is the conclusion of a major new survey of 7,000 people from across the property and construction sectors, which found that 76 per cent regarded the government's zero-carbon home target as "unrealistic".

Similarly, 73 per cent of respondents said that a government target requiring all new commercial properties to attain zero-carbon status by 2019 was also unlikely to be met.

The survey from the British Property Federation, law firm Taylor Wessing and communications consultancy Spada, reveals growing disquiet across the industry about the demanding new targets.

However, it also confirms there is still widespread support for tighter green building regulations. A majority of respondents said they thought regulation would continue to drive improvements in building's environmental performance, while 68 per cent said that sustainability was either "very" or " highly" important to their business.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, urged the sector to work closely with the new government to develop workable green regulations.

"With an industry that is sceptical about carbon-reduction targets, closer collaboration between government and the industry is essential if these are to be met," she said. "Government will need to work with all sectors to understand fragmented views and identify why certain sectors feel the targets are more achievable than others."

Housing minister Grant Shapps recently confirmed that the government would retain the 2016 target for new zero-carbon homes, and it is widely believed he will also retain the 2019 target for commercial buildings. He also confirmed that the government will release the long-awaited definition of what constitutes a zero-carbon home this summer.


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