Three big carbon regulation policy moments, and why they are important.
The past few weeks have seen some huge shifts in construction carbon policy. These changes could be landmark in our route to decarbonising the built environment. We have compiled summaries of three important recent stories that we believe you should know about.
Duncan Baker MP has pulled his Carbon Emissions (Buildings) Bill 4 days before the second reading was due to take place in the House of Commons.
The bill, if it were passed, was due to implement mandatory carbon limits for construction; commercial buildings starting January 1st of next year and residential buildings by January 1st 2025. Following a promotion to Parliamentary Private Secretary for three ministers in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Rules of the House of Commons dictate that a Private Members’ Bill can not be brought forward by an MP whose role overlaps with the contents of said bill. The policy proposed is of great need to the construction industry, and withdrawal of the bill further sets back the already slow progress the construction industry is making towards net zero. Many leading construction companies have come out in support of the bill. Notables include Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, BAM Construct, Arcadis, Morgan Sindall, and many more.
The bill received criticism from SMEs concerned that their businesses would not be financially sustainable if they were made to implement the regulations. Baker’s office said that the bill could be picked up by another MP when parliament resumes in May.
The Government has scrapped VAT on heat pumps, solar panels, insulation and water & wind turbines.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement attempted to alleviate the effects of the cost of living crisis currently gripping the UK. Amongst the number of fiscal adjustments made by the Chancellor, he scrapped VAT on heat pumps, solar panels, insulation and water & wind turbines. Sunak stated that their intended purpose was to create cost savings for homeowners wanting to make their homes more energy-efficient and decreasing the cost of solar and wind farm installations thus relieving the energy crisis and allowing the grid to rely less on non-renewable energy, particularly oil and gas — an effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has caused oil prices to skyrocket. Although these changes are beneficial to green building tech, they may be harmful overall as embodied carbon emissions are once again ignored. In fact the policies could lead to more upfront carbon being released due to production of building tech. High energy prices will have serious financial consequences for many households. However, with a life cycle thinking approach, a policy that included lower carbon solutions such as grants for more efficient buildings, may have been more effective at the environmental-social double benefit the government is trying to achieve here.
SEC proposes mandatory reporting of Scope 3 emissions.
The U.S. SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) proposed new rules that would require companies to report their carbon impact, but most importantly their Scope 3 emissions. Scope 3 emissions are the carbon impact of a firm, not just from the energy they use to produce their goods and services or use to operate day-to-day e.g. their office energy cost (which are scope 1 & 2), but also the carbon impact up and down the supply chain. The reporting could drastically change the publicly stated carbon impacts of some companies. This data is vital for firms to gain real insight on their true impact within the value chain so that they can take mitigation action. Additionally, the data produced provides accurate projections and benchmarks for decarbonisation planning as a whole.
We hope that these summaries helped you to understand these three stories and how they could significantly impact the climate and society. More information about the proposed changes to the UK building regulations can be found at https://part-z.uk/
Written by Neil McLoughlin.
Cercula is a construction carbon SaaS platform and API. We automate the whole process of generating carbon assessments from end-to-end, and format them into useful downloadable assets for our clients. Easy to understand, accurate and actionable insights to make building designs more sustainable.
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