Government urged to Take Action on Commercial Energy Efficiency

Government needs to act quickly to help improve commercial energy efficiency in the UK if opportunities are not to be missed by businesses.

david cameron

According to a new report published by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum and Carbon Connect, the government needs to act quickly to help improve commercial energy efficiency in the UK if major economic and environmental opportunities are not to be missed by businesses.

The report claims that commercial energy efficiency improvements would allow businesses in the UK to benefit from reduced energy bills, increased competitiveness, and greater worker productivity. A widespread lack of awareness of the help available to companies to make efficiency upgrades is blamed for the poor take up, and a recommendation that low-cost loans are made more easily accessible to businesses is put forward. Senior management figures are also highlighted as being largely unaware of the great benefits to businesses which increased energy efficiency can offer.

Commercial landlords are also targeted in the report which warns of the ‘split incentive’ dissuading such landlords from investing in efficiency improvements. It is proposed that measures are undertaken to both help and clampdown on landlords who have not yet been willing or able to undertake upgrades.

The report’s publication comes after a six-month, cross-party inquiry chaired by the Conservative MP Oliver Colvile and Labour MP Lord Whitty, and suggests over a dozen policy changes including:

-          Using the Green Investment Bank to provide funding for a commercial subsidiary of The Green Deal Finance Company under guarantee from HM Treasury, to provide low interest loans to SMEs to stimulate energy efficiency market.

-          Launching a national awareness campaign to clearly convey the easy availability of government-backed loans for commercial energy efficiency measures with the commercial Green Deal scheme.

-          Using Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to aid in rolling out energy efficiency measures to local businesses by using clearer guidance and instruction in LEP funding streams.

-          Improving the awareness of commercial energy efficiency measures in UK businesses by ensuring senior executives sign off the ESOS Assessor’s final report of companies’ energy efficiency performance.

-          Producing a database of UK commercial buildings based on energy efficiency so as to provide benchmarks for businesses and to foster an aware and competitive culture.

-          Increasing financial penalties for those who fail to produce Energy Performance Certificates and Display Energy Certificates for their properties.

-          Aiding landlords who wish to make improvements to commercial properties by extending the time a landlord can receive empty property rate relief from local authorities to twelve months where energy efficiency improvements are being made.

Ahead of the publication of the report, inquiry co-chair Conservative MP Oliver Colvile said that “The need to increase the resilience of our businesses against the threat of climate change, and energy price volatility could not be greater. The obvious cost savings, coupled with improved productivity that can be realised from energy efficiency, makes it quite clear that now is the time to invest on a large scale. To do that requires government intervention – to raise awareness, guarantee low cost loans, stimulate the market and incentivise the landlords. This report lays out clearly how that can be achieved quickly and cost effectively.”

The full report is available to download here.

Image by UK Department for International Development.

 

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