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Government’s Sustainability Standards: have they reached their goal?

We have come very far since the Green Party’s Sustainable Energy legislation brought in standards for new builds through Part L. These regulations have brought more people out of the fuel poverty trap than any other policy.

We now have some of the best standards in the world for eliminating fossil fuel use to heat our domestic buildings. However the construction sector is still one of the biggest emitters of Co2. This carbon is embodied in construction materials, whether through excavation, production, manufacture, transport, construction and its end of life disposal.

In a european context we are well behind the curve as many countries have mandated their state bodies to procure using life cycle assessment practices, where materials have EPD’s Environmental Product Declarations or ECI’s Environmental Cost Indicators. These acronyms assist designers to procure buildings in a way that reduces embodied carbon.

This type of procurement practice is enshrined in the EU Green Public Procurement Directive, which was published in 2004. Since then we have gone through 2 economic cycles, yet 16 years later, we have not implemented this policy that is designed to reduce our Co2 emissions. I have gratefully been briefed by your department who appear to be unaware of these sustainable procurement practices which are widespread in the EU, having the intention of reducing embodied carbon.

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