DECC Carbon Plan: reducing CO2 – through procurement, transport and homes

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) yesterday published its Carbon Plan, outlining the anticipated steps to reaching the country’s 2020 emissions targets. The document has been released in draft format, with a full version expected this autumn.

Aiming to encourage the UK to cut its carbon footprint while at the same time promoting green jobs and investment in the country, a revised version of the Carbon Plan will be released each year.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said, “This Carbon Plan sets out a vision of a changed Britain, powered by cleaner energy used more efficiently in our homes and businesses, with more secure energy supply and more stable energy prices, and benefiting from the jobs and growth that a low-carbon economy will bring.

Built Environment Issues:

Although in draft form the Carbon Plan indicates the direction it will take and the impact on the built environment through procurement, energy, transport etc. These are issues that should be addressed by organisations in the built environment from suppliers to designers, constructors and facilities management, and importantly addressed and championed by board members.

On Procurement

8.5 With an annual public sector spend in excess of £236 billion, procurement is a powerful lever that can reduce emissions and drive innovation. The establishment of minimum and best practice product specifications for government purchasing (Government Buying Standards) has improved the environmental performance of priority products, such as construction, transport, and information and communication technology.

On Transport

Transport is a major contributor to the UK’s energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other polluting emissions, with the majority of those emissions coming from the oil-based fuels we rely on for road transport. We can all play a part in changing this by taking advantage of public transport and looking at innovative alternatives to travel such as video conferencing for some business meetings.

The Carbon plan cites the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games approach to minimise emissions through construction material transport

Note that constructco2 indicates the biggest emitter of CO2 in the construction process is transport

On Homes and Eco Developments

Almost half of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the energy used to generate heat,4 with the vast majority of our homes still relying on fossil fuel powered gas boilers and with much of our building stock still poorly insulated and inefficient. There is a huge opportunity here, not only to cut greenhouse gas emissions and emissions of harmful pollutants, but also for households and businesses to save money, with the most significant and cost effective opportunities likely to come from better insulation and from replacing inefficient heating systems.

We need to ensure that the homes and  buildings being built now and in the future are as energy efficient as possible, and the Government is committed to introducing ambitious energy efficiency standards for new homes and buildings. In the short term, this means ensuring that all fossil fuel boilers are as efficient as possible, but we also need to move towards lower carbon alternatives such as air and ground source heat pumps and consider decentralised options like Combined Heat and Power and district heating.

The Government wants to support and enable communities in their wish to adopt higher environmental standards for new homes including through:

• ensuring that there are robust sustainability standards for local authorities to use if they want to set higher standards than those in the national regulations in their local plans. For example, the Code for Sustainable Homes provides standards for the sustainable design and construction of new homes (including water efficiency) that meet or exceed those set out in The Building Regulations 2010; and supporting eco-towns and eco-developments where there is local support and a wish to adopt higher standards of sustainability and design.

More comments to follow

The Carbon Plan

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