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                              Built Environment and Climate Change
                          Progress report for Climate Change Commission

1 Introduction

The built environment is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Wales. The way in
which we construct and use our homes and other buildings accounts for approximately 45% of our
total carbon emissions

The Welsh Assembly Government has an aspiration that all new buildings in Wales will be zero
carbon by 2011 – five years in advance of the UK Government‟s target. It is acknowledged that the
zero carbon is one of our most radical and transformational environmental ambitions, requiring us to
think beyond incremental improvements to fundamental shifts in mind sets

While it is essential that our new homes are as energy efficient as possible and use renewable
sources of energy, the vast majority of our existing building stock will still be standing in 2050 and so
will make a much more significant contribution to the One Wales target of 3% annual emission

Wales has the advantage of being a small, well connected country and so should be able to “work
smarter” to achieve these goals. The Sustainable Development Commission‟s I Will if you Will report
set out the need to engage government, business and the community in any process that aims to
achieve fundamental change recognizing that our aspirations for sustainable development will only be
met through collaborative action.

    This project was commissioned by Jane Davidson as Minister for Environment, Sustainability and
    Housing to develop this collaboration, through creating a “coalition of the willing”. The process aims to
    be a catalyst for achieving a step change in the sustainability of our built environment.

The “coalition of the willing” will be a cross sector network committed to sharing knowledge, removing
barriers and collaborating on research and development. Each of the partners will seek to provide
leadership and be an advocate for change within the part of the built environment sector they
represent. The process recognizes that engagement with the construction industry, especially with the
many small and medium-sized companies operating in the sector, is central to the transition needed,
and also that it is essential to increase consumer demand for low carbon buildings.

2 Project Aim

The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) and the Design Commission for Wales DCfW) have been
asked by Jane Davidson AM, Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing to:

     develop advice and recommendations for the Welsh Assembly Government, framed around its aspiration for
      all new buildings to be zero carbon by 2011 and its target for 3% annual reductions in CO 2 as outlined in One

     identify areas and a roadmap for progress on which the Welsh Assembly Government can deliver, exam ining
      and recognising the principal barriers, and identifying opportunities, policy options, incentives and measures
      for overcoming these barriers.

     create a “coalition of the willing” of key stakeholders from the private, public and voluntary sectors that will
  take a “can do” approach to tackling climate change through the built environment.

3. Progress to Date

3.1 A stakeholder network has been established and three consultation sessions held – in March, May and
September 2008. Individual consultations with key stakeholders took place between May and September. A
list of those engaged in the process to date is set out in Annex.

3..2 A study of best practice in zero carbon new build – including case studies from Wales, the rest of the UK
and elsewhere in Europe - has been initiated with Cardiff University School of Architecture

3.3 The first session of the stakeholder network identified a need for more effective engagement with EU policy
and programmes relating to climate change A draft discussion paper entitled Built Environment and Climate
Change in Wales: Using the European connections, prepared by European policy and funding specialist Dr Liz
Mills, was circulated in August.

3.4 A summary of the key policy recommendations emerging from recent major reports and studies undertaken
at UK level on the subject of carbon reduction from the existing stock has been circulated to stakeholders for
comment. Members of the network have taken part in the UK Green Buildings Council (UKGBC)/SDC
consultation on the carbon reduction from the existing housing stock,. Recommendations from this process will
be submitted to the Climate Change Commission for consideration.

3.5 The project has established close links with the new UK Zero Carbon Hub, which has been set up as a
public private partnership designed to bring clarity and support to those involved in the move towards zero
carbon buildings. The “Hub” is working closely with the UK Government on the definition of zero carbon and a
consultation document is expected in the Autumn with the intention of establishing agreement by the end of the

3.6 Contributions towards a „route map‟ for reduction in carbon emissions in the existing housing stock in Wales
have been drafted for the project by Wates and the Centre for Alternative Technology.

3.7 Participants in the project are working closely with the Welsh Assembly Government specifically with Jeff
Perren who has been appointed to coordinate work within Assembly Government on delivering zero carbon
new build and Julia Williams who is leading the consultation on the development of a National Energy Savings
and Efficiency Plan. Stakeholders have been encouraged to respond to the Planning Division‟s consultation on
“Planning for Climate Change” in which additions to Planning Policy Wales have been proposed. The project
also aims to build on the report and recommendations of the National Assembly‟s Sustainability Committee on
carbon reduction in the residential sector.

4. Feedback from the Stakeholder Engagement

4.1 The key themes emerging from the stakeholder engagement can be summarized as:
       - confusion – lots of activity but no sense of clarity
       - inconsistency and mixed messages especially from local planning advice
       - anxiety about increased costs at a time of economic downturn
       - uncertainty over building regulations
       - some frustration arising from a crowded marketplace of initiatives and lack of engagement
          with the sector
       - lack of clear route map and milestones.

“What is needed is not more analysis but leadership, investment and coordination. We need to
recognise the power of consistency, repetition and amplification”

4.2 The importance of learning from the exemplars in new build and renovation where we have
leading practice. Key points raised included:

        -   the importance of WAG leadership on sites it has a role in developing and the public sector
            in general as being the key client. Stakeholders emphasized the lack of consistency in
            sustainable procurement from public sector clients

        -   the leadership role of the social housing sector in being a pathfinder for application of the
            higher levels of the code.

        -   confusion over the various proposals for a centre for sustainable construction – would
            such a centre be a focal point for the whole supply chain and a stimulate change through
            access to skills, knowledge etc, or add another initiative to the list ?

        -   concerns about the issue of low carbon techniques being of competitive advantage
            resulting in a reluctance to share practice .

“There is still a lack of progress on procurement – not taking into account long term life maintenance”

4.3 The importance of the Code for Sustainable Homes in giving a clear framework which is
supported by the industry as single national standard linked with energy performance certificates.
There is still a need to have clearer communication over the expectations. Issues raised over the
application of the code included:

       -    fabric improvements should be the starting point before addition of micro generation. Micro
            generation, particularly bio mass boilers, is often used as the quick win to get to standard,
            yet is heavily reliant on consumer reaction.

       -    off site renewables should be higher in the zero carbon hierarchy than on site micro-
            generation. Proposals include a system where developers invested set amounts into offsite
            renewable generation rather than put in on house micro generation that had to be managed
            by the consumer and a greater emphasis on macro solutions to renewables

       -    A bolt on approach to existing design and methods results in anxieties over evidence of
            increased costs, which the market will not bear. Site wide solutions are key, but achieving
            economies of scale and district heating etc is not feasible for the 1 or 2 house
            developments that are common across Wales and involve small builders and sub

       -    the scope for improving the code in Wales and for introducing a code for existing homes

“difficult enough for first time buyers to get a mortgage for a house without having to pay more for an
energy efficient house. Up front affordability will be at the front of the buyers mind. “

4.4 Costs are obviously a key issue within a depressed market. Reports have identified additional
costs of moving from code 3 to 6 as being £30,000, while quoted experience shows significant
variation. Stakeholders highlighted that:

       -    much more work needs to be done on exact costing and modeling – eg through accurate
            testing of cost models of different site developments

       -    opportunities for more innovative financing needed to be developed, such as the “pay as
            you save” or “energy savings performance contracting” proposals

“Interventions will be at their most effective when the social and the technical are brought together
and treated as interdependent aspects of the whole system”

4.5 Public engagement is critical to the process – the code for sustainable homes currently means
little, so it is vital that we have a more effective public engagement process. Our capacity to achieve
this as a “small smart” nation will be critical in accelerating the carbon reduction and zero carbon
aspirations. Key points raised included

        -   engaging the occupier about how the house is supposed to be used and how the
            technology works.

        -   an integrated approach is essential if the rebound effect means money saved on bills may
            be spent on more emission generating activities.

        -   improving information supply to Welsh consumers - accelerate smart meters, improve
            information on energy bills, integrate communication campaigns involving private sector
            partners and community organizations.

“the way I build houses has changed very little in the past 41 years, the main difference is that I don’t
have to mix cement by hand anymore”

4.6 The sustainability skills issue is critical with 8000 construction firms in Wales, over 50% of
which have under 3 employees, The results of a study by the Welsh School of Architecture reveals a
complex, fragmented collection of firms that make it challenging to communicate news standards and
inculcate new working practices in a short time. While the same need to develop sustainability skills
applies in other professional areas – planners, architects. Key points raised included:

       -    this should be addressed as key issue through the Employment and Skills Commission and
            Sir Adrian Webb as the Commissioner for Wales

       -    easy and affordable access to training for the industry is seen as essential. The need for
            clear, easily accessible guidance and training on zero / low carbon construction techniques.

       -    The challenge of low / zero carbon construction techniques is to move towards training that
           requires elements of several different trades, as well as new competencies such as energy
           systems and building physics.

       -   proposals for developing a sustainable construction accreditation framework so that
           customers would know that they were choosing a builder with the required skills. A similar
           proposal for architects has been submitted to the Minister

       -   lots of concerns of capacity within planning and development control

“Focus on the lack of information, improving knowledge, and skills Introduce carrots not sticks –
incentivise the right behaviours and support the companies that produce the sustainable technologies
and materials – make a major push on the supply side of sustainability”

4.7 The importance of initiatives that encourage development through the supply chain in
Wales, with key points being:

       -   investment in support for business growth opportunities in sustainable technologies and
           services with strong links to the green jobs strategy .

       -   focus on building the supply chain of sustainable building products produced in Wales

       -   new innovative product development needs to be supported and provided with potential for

       -   the role of key players in the supply chain such as builders merchants needs to be

“Many of our suppliers have been pushing their contribution to low carbon solutions for some time, and
in the past 12 months our local developer, contractor, and self-build customers have brought this issue
much closer to the top of their priorities than has ever been the case.” Independent builders merchant

4.8 The need to take a holistic view to the development of an effective carbon reduction strategy
for the built environment to ensure that :

       -   there is effective low carbon land use planning through local government in managing the
           built environment in an integrated & sustainable way

       -   there is integration between new and existing building strategies

       -   strong connections are made with UK initiatives, such as the UK Green Buildings Council
           and the UK Zero Carbon Hub, to reduce confusion within the UK construction sector -
           recognising that most large scale building developments will be undertaken by UK wide

       -   a greater clarity of leadership and accountability from within the different groups operating
           within the sector

       -   partnerships are established with EU partners with extensive experience of area wide

“We need to stress the importance of not looking at new build in a separate silo to the existing built
environment and equally ensuring that solutions look for synergies between housing, commercial,
office, public buildings and industrial premises so that progress is viable and produces coherent
community benefit”

5. Proposals for Next Steps

In the light of evidence and opinions gathered so far, the following actions are proposed in order to
accelerate the move towards reducing carbon emissions from the built environment in Wales:

1. A structure to deliver a step change in the sustainability of our built environment in Wales that :

-   connects with the structures being established by the UK Green Building Council and UK Zero
    Carbon hub
-   provides clarity of leadership and delivery across the key themes of Energy efficiency, Energy supply, Skills
    and Training, Exemplars and Scaling up and Consumer engagement
-   engages a coalition from across the sector
-   connects the work on both new build and existing housing
-   maximises the opportunities of the EU programmes
-   reports progress to the Climate Change Commission

2. Securing the commitment of key organisations and agencies to undertake leadership actions within
this proposed structure. This commitment will be communicated through a “Built Environment and
Climate Change Summit on November 12th

Xxxx recognises the significant contribution the built environment makes to carbon emissions and climate
change. Xxx therefore supports the need to move towards a built environment that contributes low or zero net
carbon emissions as quickly as practically possible. This needs all relevant stakeholders to work together to take
this agenda forward as part of a coordinated partnership.

Xxx therefore pledges to work with partners to support:
       An energy efficient built environment

       On-site, near-site and offsite low carbon energy supplies

       Good design in solutions for a low/zero carbon built environment

       The sharing of examples and scale up projects

       An increase in relevant and easy to access skills and training provision

       Wider consumer engagement to stimulate demand
XXX will produce an action plan and report annually on progress to the Wales Built Environment and Climate
Change Partnership/Wales Climate Change Commission

3. Developing an integrated communications strategy which will incorporate an initial programme of
   workshops for key target groups with supporting material clearly setting out the requirements of
   the zero carbon aspiration. The first 3 workshops are planned for October to target property
   agents, architects and main contractor
4. Establishing a “Regional Framework for Action for a Low Carbon Built Environment” covering not
   only housing but also other land uses, landscape and the public realm and identifying lead
   organisations for delivery, placing particular emphasis on the pivotal role of local authorities. The
   Framework should be developed as part of the Low Carbon regions work being developed under
   the Wales Spatial Plan.

5. Raising awareness of the EU policy context and funding opportunities and engaging with policy
   makers and practitioners from other European regions so as to maximise the opportunities for
   policy learning and the transfer of knowledge and expertise, in line with the preliminary
   recommendations from the paper Built Environment and Climate Change in Wales: Using the
   European connections

6. Ensuring that the recommendations from the UKGBC/SDC consultation and the Wates/CAT route
   map on reductions from existing buildings feed into the National Energy Efficiency and Savings
   Plan, with the identification of key areas for leadership action in Wales, including the introduction
   of “low carbon enterprise zones” These “low carbon zones” would act as a test bed for
   technologies, skills and delivery models to be developed before a large scale roll out across

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