Minister ignores CLC warning over energy-efficiency target

A key report has warned that the industry is “not on track” to improve energy efficiency in millions of homes – but minister Nusrat Ghani failed to acknowledge the warning in the document’s foreword.

In its seventh quarterly report of the Construct Zero Performance Framework, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) gave a red rating to the industry target of improving 11.13 million homes to an EPC C rating by 2035. The ambition is the only one of 14 targets to receive a red ratings.

A red rating means “there is no government policy intervention and industry is not hitting the target”.

However, CLC co-chair and construction minister Nusrat Ghani did not mention the rating or the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock in her foreword to the report, despite saying the government has to “pick up the pace in two [other] areas”.

Ghani also failed to mention the issue in a five-minute video made to accompany the report’s formal launch at the London Build event last week.

Instead, the minister said in her foreword that further work is needed on the number of trained heat-pump installers and the volume of electric vans on the road.

She added: “It’s clear we have made progress. However, challenges remain. By working in partnership with our growing network of more than 220 companies, we will continue to learn from each other, and lead the sector’s progress to net zero.”

An executive summary of the report noted that “heat demand in buildings needs to fall by over 25 per cent from 2019 to 2035 according to the Climate Change Committee pathway. Currently we’re showing an increase [in] 2020 and 2021, most likely linked to the shift to working from home.”

The summary added: “As far as government policy is concerned, the most significant impact of the prime minister’s [recent] speech [on net zero] was to scrap policies to force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties in 2028.”

The Construct Zero Performance Framework is described by the CLC as a “sector-level dashboard on our progress towards net zero”. The dashboard tracks nine priority areas, 14 targets and 31 metrics.

Six of the 14 performance targets were given amber ratings, indicating that more work is needed, while one target was given a grey rating as no data exists to evidence progress. Only six targets – less than half – have green ratings, meaning they are deemed to be on track. (See full list of targets and ratings, below.)

Among the amber-rated targets are a commitment to ensure half of all houses are connected to low-carbon heat sources such as heat pumps by 2035; and to reduce construction product emissions by two-thirds by 2035.

Targets deemed to be on track include ensuring 70 per cent of construction vans are electric by 2030, although the report says this target is still “quite an ask” given data shows only 5.5 per cent of the vans sold in the year to date were electric.

The last quarterly framework update, which was issued in August, showed the industry was on track for fewer than half of its nine net-zero priorities. The CLC has since switched to applying a traffic-light system to its 14 performance targets rather than its nine priorities.

Hannah Vickers and Matt Palmer, respectively the director of the Construct Zero programme and the industry sponsor for net zero, said in their executive summary that, despite a “lot of noise” about the recent government net-zero announcements, which were widely seen as climb-downs on key net-zero policies, the data showed their impact was less significant.

There were some short-term changes which would influence business decisions, they added, but the bigger risk was political rhetoric that signalled to businesses that net zero was less of a priority.

“In fact, it’s our financial markets and investors and ultimately our end customers, or rather the children of our end customers, who will be determining what is and is not a priority,” she said.

Ratings given to the Construct Zero Performance Framework targets

RED: not on track 

  • 11.13 million homes to reach EPC C by 2035.

AMBER: more work needed

  • Close the productivity gap between construction and economy average output per worker by 2035.
  • 50 per cent of all housing stock connected to low-carbon heat sources (heat networks, heat pumps and PV) by 2035.
  • 25 per cent reduction in heat demand in homes from 2019 to 2035.
  • Every client of the sector will be provided carbon data by 2030 to make informed lower carbon choices.
  • From 2022, give all our clients the chance to become net zero by offering alternative low-carbon design options and advice, even if not scoped.
  • Reduce construction product emissions by 66 per cent from 2018 to 2035.

GREEN: on track 

  • 78 per cent of diesel plant to be eliminated from construction sites by 2035.
  • 70 per cent of new vans to be electric vehicles by 2030.
  • Eliminate waste in all but hazardous construction and demolition waste entering landfill by 2040.
  • From 2025, planning applications from the sector must connect to public/active transport and include electric-vehicle charging where parking is provided
  • All new buildings designed with low-carbon heating solutions from 2025.
  • From 2025, deliver new homes and buildings that will minimise energy demand and reduce emissions in operation by 75 per cent (dwellings) and at least 27 per cent (commercial buildings) compared with current standards.

GREY: no data 

  • 300,000 charging points installed by 2030.

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