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BRE Calls for Higher UK Building Standards

BRE Calls for Higher UK Building Standards

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has today published its Manifesto for 2024, calling on the next Government to commit to world-leading standards for British buildings.

Key asks include encouraging ‘micro’ investment zones to develop clusters of excellence in net zero research, embracing technologies like AI to enable improved planning and retrofit programmes, and enabling government collaboration with low carbon entrepreneurs to ensure innovative products meet sustainability standards.

BRE’s Manifesto calls for the incoming Government to commit to issuing a White Paper on building standards within six months of taking office. This would outline a new strategy to power investment in better buildings by providing long-term certainty for owners, occupiers, supply chains, and investors.

As the UK’s second largest source of carbon emissions, the building sector is in urgent need of decarbonisation, but not enough is yet being done
– Gillian Charlesworth, CEO at BRE.

The UK built environment faces interlinked challenges which require a new, cross-department policy approach to building standards. Much of the UK’s housing stock is substandard, with BRE’s latest Cost of Poor Housing Report finding that England’s poor-quality homes cost the NHS £1bn per year.

UKGBC found that 29m homes will need to be retrofitted before 2050 to meet the UK’s net zero commitments, and the Government’s own figures show a collapse in the installation of loft and cavity wall insulation since 2013.

Coordinated and ambitious action involving the breadth of government is needed to bring the UK’s homes, buildings and infrastructure up to standard.

Gillian Charlesworth, CEO of BRE, said: “As the UK’s second largest source of carbon emissions, the building sector is in urgent need of decarbonisation, but not enough is yet being done. With a General Election on the horizon, it is essential that all political parties pledge to take radical, long-term action to achieve this.

“In order to solve the dual challenge of decarbonising the sector while also fixing the housing shortage, a new government needs to commit to proposals which take a holistic approach to the problem, ensuring outcomes are improved for individuals, communities, and the wider UK economy.”

BRE recommends that a new government strategy covers official, regulatory standards and government support for ambitious, beyond-regulatory-minimum, industry-led standards, and lays out plans for the research, development, delivery and leadership required to transform the standards of British buildings.

Some of BRE’s asks for a new government include:
Encourage collaborative R&D and testing between government and the UK’s net zero innovators, by:

  • Working with low carbon entrepreneurs at early stages of development to ensure innovative products can meet sustainability standards.
  • Embracing technology like the digital twinning of UK infrastructure and the built environment to enable improved planning and retrofit.

 

Prioritise the development of the UK’s building standards, by:

  • Setting a clear timeline for the next stage of the Future Homes Standard beyond 2050.
  • Establishing a timeline for the development of a net zero ready EPC system for homes, including a new provisional EPC for the 40% of homes that do not yet have one.

 

Use the levers of government to attract investment to deliver building standards, by:

  • Establishing smaller campuses as designated ‘micro’ investment zones to support dedicated specialist research and development in net zero technology, with the same advantages as larger zones.
  • Specifying ambitious standards in the Treasury Green Book for new construction projects, to help reduce waste, improve resilience and support the UK’s net zero targets.

 

Empower governance & leadership to enable transformational change, by:

  • Recognising housing as an urgent public health issue and prioritise this in NHS strategic planning.
  • Exporting British standards and certification services in the built environment to establish the UK as an international leader in net zero.

 

BRE’s Manifesto contains several, direct recommendations which span numerous government departments, including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and the Department for Health and Social Care, among others.

Read BRE’s Manifesto in full here.

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