1. What do you see as the priority for UK climate and energy policy in the next 5 years?
As part of a multi-national company that invests and leads the way in creating sustainable habitats, Saint-Gobain UK would like to see the built environment high on the agenda for the next five years, whether it be providing new homes or improving existing properties.
According to the Committee on Climate Change, the buildings sector accounts for 37% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. There are currently some 26 million dwellings in the UK, the vast majority of which are expected to still be standing in 2050, so it’s important to improve the performance of our current building stock if we are to meet our national emissions targets
Equally important is ensuring new build is as energy efficient as can be. The zero carbon policy agenda is something we would like to see continued through progressive tightening of Building Regulations (Part L) and implementation of Allowable Solutions.
2. What do you think would be the best way for the new Government to make significant progress in energy efficiency?
Refurbishing existing buildings to reduce carbon emissions is one of the most cost-effective means. Our reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source can be lowered; we can reduce the running costs of our buildings and improve our general health and wellbeing.
Retrofit of the UK’s current housing stock is not only beneficial to reducing our emissions; it can also help alleviate fuel poverty. Saint-Gobain supports the Energy Bill Revolution’s campaign for the treatment of retrofit to be a national infrastructure priority.
In March 2014, we worked with the EEPB to identify, review and tackle the barriers the UK retrofit industry faces. The report highlights the need for Government to back an ‘existing building hub’ to unite industry and build upon existing experience to overcome the day-to-day problems and increase quality and standards.
Initiatives alone will not be enough – they need to be carefully marketed to the consumer to raise awareness of what’s available and the benefits they offer. A whole-house approach is the best way to ensure buildings provide us with a comfortable, healthy habitat.