RIBA responses to government consultations on climate action
The climate emergency is the biggest challenge facing our planet and the architecture profession. But to have a significant impact we need to turn warm words into impactful actions. As the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), our consultation responses urge government adopt the 2030 Climate Challenge targets and create an ambitious plan to ensure all new and existing buildings do not have a negative impact on the environment.
Climate action and sustainability
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Design of the Energy Company Obligation ECO4: 2022-2026
This consultation sought views on the future design of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
Our response called on the government to ensure a net zero mandate is cemented into ECO4, those who are fuel poor are properly targeted and that local authorities are fully equipped to support and deliver the transition to net zero.
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: Net zero governance
This inquiry examined the leadership and co-ordination which will be needed by government to deliver on the UK’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050.
Our response highlighted that to date the cross-departmental nature of energy efficiency has meant that crucial elements of its policy have been lost between departmental remits. The RIBA recommends that improving the energy efficiency of England’s building stock becomes a national infrastructure priority, which will help ensure adequate funding and long-term policies.
Environmental Audit Committee: Mapping the path to net zero: local government and net zero in England
This inquiry looked into the roles and responsibilities of local authorities, the role of the planning system and funding and resource capabilities of local authorities to ensure we reach net zero.
The RIBA response called on the government to bring forward a framework for delivery of climate targets, that takes into consideration local contexts, introduce a National Retrofit Strategy and ensuring sustainability is at the heart of the planning system.
Read our response (PDF).
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Introducing a performance-based policy framework in large commercial and industrial buildings in England and Wales
This two part consultation sought views on the government’s proposals to introduce a national performance-based policy framework for rating the energy and carbon performance of large commercial and industrial buildings and how this should be implemented in large offices.
Our response called on the government to design the performance-based policy with the intention to extend to all commercial and industrial buildings in the long-term, set out a clear timetable for implementation for other sectors and ensure the incentives adequately drive performance improvements.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: The Non-Domestic Private Rented Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards – implementation of the EPC B future target
This consultation follows on from the government's 2019 consultation on improving the energy efficiency of the non-domestic private rented sector. This consultation sought views on how to improve implementation and enforcement of the new standards.
Our response called on the government to introduce an interim energy efficiency milestone to ensure improvement works aren't left until the last moment and ensure local authorities have the funding and skills to enforce the minimum energy efficiency standards.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Consultation on the draft policy statement on environmental principles
This consultation sought views on the draft policy statement on environmental principles which sets out how those five internationally recognised environmental principles should be interpreted and proportionately applied.
Our response highlighted that the government policy must consider the best outcome for the environment, even if that means “not doing something”, rather than simply making policy as sustainable as possible.
Environmental Audit Committee: Sustainability of the built environment
This inquiry looked at the best routes to net zero for our future building needs, including low carbon materials and policies to minimise the whole life carbon impact of new buildings.
The RIBA response called on the government to set operational energy and embodied carbon targets for buildings, and embed Post Occupancy Evaluation in all projects. We also suggest that the government must introduce a National Retrofit Strategy to ensure our existing housing stock reaches net zero.
Read our response to inquiry (PDF).
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee: Local government and the path to net zero
This inquiry aimed scrutinise the government’s plans to make all new homes “zero carbon ready,” through the introduction of the Future Homes Standard, and to explore how local government can help the UK to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
Our response called on the government to set actual performance energy targets, promoting and undertake Post Occupancy Evaluation to help close the performance gap and bring forward additional funding and resources for local authorities to help improve the energy efficiency of the building stock in their local area.
Read our response to inquiry (PDF).
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government: Future Buildings Standard
This consultation sought views on changes to Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations for non-domestic buildings and dwellings; and overheating in new residential buildings.
Our response called on government to start measuring operational energy and embodied carbon and set ambitious targets for these metrics.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Local factors in managing flood and coastal erosion risk and property flood resilience – call for evidence
This consultation looked at further ways to increase the uptake of property flood resilience measures to enable householders and businesses to better prepare for flooding.
Our response highlighted that architecture plays a critical role in mitigating flood risk and that the planning system and Building Regulations should include flood resilient design.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Improving home energy performance through lenders
This consultation called for views on how the government can encourage lenders to improve the energy performance of mortgaged properties to help deliver substantial emissions reductions.
Our response called on the government to require lenders to disclose the energy performance of their portfolios, consider embodied carbon targets and promote a fabric first approach to retrofitting.
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: Green Jobs
This inquiry sought views on the jobs, skills and training needed to achieve the UK’s longer term climate and environmental ambitions. It also looked at how green jobs can help tackle the expected rise in unemployment due to COVID-19.
Our response highlighted the role that improving the energy efficiency of our homes can play in creating thousands of new green jobs. It also highlighted the importance of adequate funding for training and education to ensure the UK has the relevant skills and expertise to do retrofit safely and effectively.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Improving the energy performance of privately rented homes in England and Wales
This consultation called for views on how the government should bring forward higher standards for energy efficiency within the private rented sector.
Our response called on the government to introduce a dual metric to measure energy efficiency, increase the cost cap to £15,000 and consider embodied carbon to improve the energy efficiency of the private rented sector.
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: Technological Innovations and Climate Change - Heat Pumps
This inquiry called for views on how heat pumps can be effectively rolled out across the country.
Our response noted that while heat pumps can be effective way to achieve low carbon heating, fabric efficiency must be the primary consideration when designing a new home. For existing homes, heat pumps should form part of a “whole house” retrofit plan.
House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: Flooding
This inquiry was interested in hearing views on how the government is proactively and reactively responding to flooding in England.
Our response highlighted the import role that design and architects can play in mitigating flood risk. Good design makes communities healthier and safer before, during, and after flooding events.
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: Energy Efficiency in Existing Homes
This inquiry sought views on how the government should improve the energy efficiency of existing homes to help the UK reach its climate goals.
Our response urged government to implement a National Retrofit Strategy with adequate funding and incentives to ensure the 19 million homes that require retrofitting are reached.
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: Possible Future Inquiries
This inquiry sought views on which inquiries the Environmental Audit Committee should take forward. We recommended two inquires: energy efficiency of existing homes, and the role of local authorities in reaching net zero.
NHS Net Zero: call for evidence
This consultation asked for ideas on how the NHS can continue to reduce its carbon emissions and become greener. We recommended that all NHS buildings consider whole life carbon and utilise Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE).
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government: Future Homes Standard
This consultation sought views on the regulations governing the energy performance of new residential buildings. The Future Homes Standard consultation looks at proposed changes to Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) and Part F (Ventilation) of the Building Regulations.
Our response called on government to set ambitious targets for new homes in line with the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Non-domestic private rented sector minimum energy efficiency standards
This consultation sought views on how best to improve the energy performance of non-domestic private rented buildings through tighter minimum energy standards. Our response called for government to mandate that non-domestic buildings use Display Energy Certificates (DECs) to measure operational energy.
House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee: energy efficiency - building towards net zero
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee launched an inquiry into the government’s approach to delivering energy efficiency improvements to buildings. Our response calls for energy efficiency to be made a national infrastructure priority.
House of Commons Treasury Committee: Decarbonisation and green finance
The Treasury Committee was interested to find out if HM Treasury should be directly funding green infrastructure as part of its coronavirus spending package.
Our response recommended prioritising additional public investment and reviewing tax mechanisms to incentivise energy efficient retrofits in existing homes. We also suggested that HM Treasury should ensure that publicly funded infrastructure projects are providing value for money by requiring the use of Post Occupancy Evaluation.
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: Greening the post-COVID recovery
This inquiry sought views on how the government should prioritise the environment in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Our response noted that the built environment has a key role in supporting an environmentally friendly recovery from the pandemic. Improving the energy efficiency of our existing housing stock and ensuring new buildings do not negatively impact the environment are key to a green recovery.
House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee: Post-pandemic economic growth
The BEIS Select Committee launched an inquiry into post-pandemic economic growth, including which sectors should be included, and what the government's priorities should include. Our response highlighted the importance of the built environment in post-pandemic economic growth while helping the UK meet its climate goals.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: written submission on economic recovery from COVID-19 - green recovery
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy asked the RIBA to provide details on how the built environment can assist with a green recovery post-coronavirus (COVID-19).
Our response highlighted the importance of addressing energy efficiency in existing homes as a key element of the UK’s green recovery.
The Labour Party: Green recovery consultation
The Labour Party were looking for information on what should be included in their green recovery policies.
We recommended that the Labour Party endorse embodied carbon targets and promote the use of Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE).