Planning, building and the environment

Sustainability

The Government believes that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action is required. Substantial, and cost effective reductions in carbon emissions from buildings will be an essential part of our effort.

The Coalition Programme sets out the Government's ambitions for a low carbon and eco friendly economy, and to be the greenest government ever, including through continuous improvements to the energy efficiency of new housing. Through our responsibilities for housing, planning and the building regulations, the Department for Communities and Local Government has an important part to play in protecting and enhancing the environment and improving our quality of life.

Background

We are committed to supporting people and local communities to become more energy efficient. We are responsible for:

  • the building regulations, which set standards for homes and non-domestic buildings on areas such as energy and water, covering new buildings and some work on existing buildings
  • the EU Energy Performance of Building Directive, such as Energy Performance Certificates and Display Energy Certificates, which can help to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes and other buildings; and
  • policy on physical standards of social housing, including energy efficiency.

We work with our partners within Government, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to deliver the Government's ambitions on mitigating and adapting to climate change and sustainable development.

What we are doing

Work streams for sustainable buildings include:

  • existing homes - supporting the Department of Energy and Climate Change on a green deal for homeowners to fund their energy efficiency improvements, at no upfront cost, that will be paid back through energy bill savings. Retaining the Energy Performance Certificate to help improve the energy efficiency of our buildings. Improving the content and format of Energy Performance Certificates and developing an online tool to help people assess how much money and carbon they can save by implementing the recommendations
  • enabling all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 and considering similar approach for new non-domestic buildings from 2019
  • Code for Sustainable Homes which provides a single national standard to guide industry in the design and construction of sustainable new homes
  • adaptation - contributing to the national programme for adaptation to climate change, to be presented to Parliament in 2012; and
  • reducing central Government carbon emissions by 10 per cent in 12 months.

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