Of the 65 recommendations in the final Low Carbon Construction IGT report, a large number involved either action and legislation from government departments, or the establishment of joint industry-government forums to work towards shared solutions.
As a result, much of the commentary surrounding the report has centred on the likely government response. When much of the government rhetoric is focussed on quango-cutting, budget trimming and reducing the burdens of regulation, how much appetite is there in Whitehall for many of Morrell's proposals?
These include “fiscal incentives to create demand for low-carbon buildings”, the “stick” of new regulation and penalties to back up the “carrot” of Green Deal loans in order to retrofit the UK housing stock, and a proposed Existing Homes Hub - when the government recently cut the funding for the Zero Carbon Hub for new-built homes.
On the other hand, other recommendations do adopt the government line of reducing duplication and quangos. For instance, Morrell proposes that the industry's three sector skills councils – Asset Skills, Construction Skills and Summit Skills – should be integrated in the interests of a more joined-up skills policy.
And it's also interesting the Morrell proposes an industry-government scheme to offer “consumer protection to those commissioning work financed by the Green Deal” - an acknowledgement that existing schemes such as Trust Mark aren't working.
Here are the 65 recommendations in full, grouped together according to the various working groups that collaborated on the overall report.
Recommendation 2.1: That as soon as a sufficiently rigorous assessment system is in place, the Treasury should introduce into the Green Book a requirement to conduct a whole-life (embodied + operational) carbon appraisal and that this is factored into feasibility studies on the basis of a realistic price for carbon.
Recommendation 2.2: That the industry should agree with Government a standard method of measuring embodied carbon for use as a design tool and (as Recommendation 2.1 above) for the purposes of scheme appraisal.
Recommendation 3.1: That the Government should treat the transition to low carbon as a series of major projects, subject to independent review, and with the normal controls that exist for Government projects that are so designated.
Recommendation 3.2: That Government and industry should establish and publish a transparent, co-ordinated structure for the many organisations involved in research, advice, policy development and delivery for carbon reduction, making clear the role, scope of work and authority of each, and how each connects to Government, whether directly or indirectly.
Recommendation 3.3: That the Government should published an adequately detailed programme of actions expected to achieve the 2050 target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions.
Recommendation 3.4: That the programme should include interim (say 5-yearly) milestones to show the expected trajectory of work to achieve the planned reductions, to provide the industry with some visibility of the possible nature and volume of work.
Recommendation 3.5: That each Government Department should develop and publish a strategy for producing low carbon buildings of each typology within its programme, consistent with the above programme and trajectory.
Recommendation 3.6: That Government (Efficiency and Reform Group, working with the Chief Construction Adviser) should investigate proposals received from the industry for alternative approaches to the procurement of integrated teams, to establish whether they could be developed into workable propositions, and thereafter be trialled, with a view to delivering, over time, a zero or close to zero carbon building for no more than a building built only to current Building Regulations.
Recommendation 3.7: That Government, industry and the organisations themselves should investigate the desirability, practicality and means of merging Asset Skills, Construction Skills and Summit Skills, so that the integration that is a theme of this report is also reflected in the skills regime.
Recommendation 3.8: That a group comprising representatives from Government, the industry and skills providers is tasked with considering how, in the light of the changing skills landscape, greater collaboration, co-operation and integration between professions, between trades, between trades and professions, and between them and the construction products and materials industry can be promoted to develop a single strategic view on future skills needs.
Recommendation 3.9: That Government and industry should agree a full schedule of data needs for the transition to a low carbon built environment, and a method, source of funds and programme for collecting, analysing and disseminating it.
Recommendation 3.10: That a joint industry/Government group is formed, charged with making clear recommendations to resolve the difficulties summarised above, and a basis for the long term funding of the development and maintenance of carbon compliance tools.
Recommendation 3.11: That the industry should work, through a collaborative forum, to identify when the use of BIM is appropriate (in terms of the type or scale of project), what the barriers to its more widespread take-up are, and how those barriers might be surpassed, leading to an outline protocol for future ways of working.
Recommendation 3.12: That Government and the industry should routinely embed the principles of “Soft Landings” into their contracts and processes, so that a building is not regarded as complete until it performs in accordance with its design criteria.
Recommendation 3.13: That Government should commission a programme of independently conducted, properly funded, published studies of the energy performance of buildings in the public estate built since the introduction of the 2006 revision of the building regulations by comparison with their design criteria.
Recommendation 3.14: That the industry should investigate the scope for setting up a construction-specific accreditation scheme for companies committed to improving their environmental credentials, considering also the different needs and the different business models across the supply chain, to establish the practicality and merits.
Recommendation 3.15: That industry should work with Government to address the above questions with a view to developing a proposition that offers consumer protection to those commissioning work financed by the Green Deal.
Recommendation 4.1: That the industry should set up a Working Group to consider the creation of a body (hereafter Major Projects Review Group, or ‘the MPRG’) which would become the authority whose stamp of approval would provide sustainability legitimacy for major projects, and be responsible for organizing the capture and dissemination of knowledge and experience gained on projects that fall within its terms of reference.
Recommendation 4.2: To recognise the urgency and importance of climate change, it is proposed that carbon reduction is given greater prominence in Environmental Impact Assessments, with a mandatory target or ‘gateway’ of performance derived from the MPRG assessment.
Recommendation 4.3: That the industry and Government should work together to use the occasion of the London Olympics as a showcase of how to implement plans for a low carbon built environment, embracing design and engineering; works execution right through the supply chain; materials, product and component manufacture; and all other construction-related services.
Recommendation 5.1: That Government should publish a working nationwide definition of zero carbon and allowable solutions for new homes that takes full account of the real cost of delivery.
Recommendation 5.2: That further pilots and trials should be encouraged through greater collaboration, and monitored throughout to increase learning and experience, and to ensure the right roll-out strategy is delivered.
Recommendation 5.3: That a consensus on both modelled and actual performance improvement data should be established from the various previous and current studies, through a knowledge-sharing process, to inform what actions need to be taken to deliver the overall target.
Recommendation 5.4: That the industry and Government should develop the very preliminary route map drafted by the IGT into as detailed a plan of action as possible, looking at what needs to be delivered and how.
Recommendation 5.5: That Government, in formulating the Green Deal customer offering, should take full account of all relevant current trials, customer research and feedback from Energy Companies and Retailers.
Recommendation 5.6: That Government, in addition to the Green Deal finance package, should introduce a suite of measures including regulation, fiscal incentives and penalties to ensure success.
Recommendation 5.7: That the industry should establish a Platform or Panel with public-sector funders, to form a collective view on strategic research, development and deployment priorities, creating and owning a Strategic Retrofit Research Agenda.
Recommendation 5.8: That social housing stock should be used to kick start larger-scale retrofit using RMI investment and other funds.
Recommendation 5.9: That Government, with the industry, should set up an Existing Homes Hub to bring together the key participants to formulate and monitor delivery of the retrofit programme, all in accordance with the principles set out above.
Recommendation 5.10: That, based on the assumption that a major programme of refurbishment will start over the next five years, the industry should start by carrying out a full assessment of its ability to deliver.
Recommendation 5.11: That the industry should develop standardised solutions for the refurbishment of existing stock, covering the key processes that will be needed.
Recommendation 5.12: That the industry should, with insurance providers, investigate an assurance and insurance package that meets the needs of consumers.
Recommendation 6.1: That Government should commission research to understand how the market values low carbon buildings – both today and looking into the future, and how incentives interact with the decisions made by owner occupiers, property investors and tenants to build lower carbon buildings and use them more efficiently.
Recommendation 6.2: That Government should review the application of the Building Regulations to refurbishment and tenant fit-out, with a view to introducing more rigorous requirements.
Recommendation 6.3: That Government should support research into the level of non-compliance associated with the EPBD and Part L of the Building Regulations, and the impact of this non-compliance on carbon emissions; to review compliance mechanisms to ensure the greatest impact at the lowest cost to business; and to amend the EPBD and Part L compliance mechanisms accordingly.
Recommendation 6.4: That Government should institute a programme of long term monitoring to review the practical outcomes associated with the EPBD and Part L, to inform future revisions.
Recommendation 6.5: That Government should introduce minimum standards for existing buildings by mandating that all non-domestic buildings should have an EPC‑rating of F or better by 2020.
Recommendation 6.6: That Government should signal its intention to use fiscal incentives to create market demand for low carbon buildings, and incentives to operate buildings better.
Recommendation 6.7: That Government should create a low cost loan and/or “pay-as-you-save” scheme to finance investments in capital intensive energy efficiency measures in non-domestic buildings.
Recommendation 6.8: That Government should create an “energy efficiency obligation” scheme obliging energy suppliers to drive uptake of low capital cost measures among smaller energy users, funded through a levy on energy bills.
Recommendation 6.9: That Government should require landlords and tenants co‑operate to agree an Energy Management Plan for their buildings, to accompany the DEC.
Recommendation 6.10: That Government should mandate the use of “Green Leases” for buildings occupied by the public sector.
Recommendation 6.11: That Government should address barriers to district heating networks by requiring public sector buildings to act as anchor loads, and encourage the private sector to do the same.
Recommendation 6.12: That the industry and its clients should recognise the critical importance to the adoption of modern methods of construction of a design freeze date that is set at the start of a project and rigorously adhered to, and consider how this can be routinely embedded into the practices of the industry.
Recommendation 6.13: That the industry should work with Buildoffsite to update its lexicon for inclusion in contracts used by the industry, adopting terminology relevant to a 21st century industry, to facilitate the transition to low carbon.
Recommendation 6.14: That Government should mandate the use of Building Information Modelling for central Government projects with a value greater than £50 million.
Recommendation 6.15: That the industry should develop a “Comparator” tool which allows companies to assess accurately the lifecycle cost of different methods of construction and the levels of risk implicit in that assessment.
Recommendation 6.16: That Government should extend the right to claim Enhanced Capital Allowances to low carbon whole building structures.
Recommendation 6.17: That Government should reinstate, or even increase, Industrial Buildings Allowances for low carbon buildings or components, including premanufactured, to reduce the cost base and encourage more efficient construction processes.
Recommendation 6.18: That Government should allow pre-acceptance of research and development proposals for R&D tax credits.
Recommendation 6.19: That the industry should explore the potential for Accreditation Schemes, such as those operated by BSI and Lloyd’s Register, to be adopted more widely.
Recommendation 6.20: That Government should bring forward the mandatory requirement for the posting of Display Energy Certificates in all non-domestic buildings as quickly as possible, and in advance of the July 2013 date required by the EPBD, with ratings and accompanying recommendations made widely available.
Recommendation6.21: That Government should commission a review of the benchmarks used to calculate DEC ratings in order to ensure that they are consistent and robust, and that they effectively differentiate on energy performance for buildings of different types; and that the process should be simplified to the greatest practical degree.
Recommendation 6.22: That companies operating in the construction and property sectors should, as an act of leadership but also to aid transformation of the market, commit to the voluntary posting of Display Energy Certificates in their own buildings, following the practice mandated for public sector buildings and applying the same principles.
Recommendation 6.23: That Government, working with the industry, should ensure that businesses have access to independent, objective advice and support on the implementation of energy efficiency measures.
Recommendation 6.24: That Government should require EPCs to be displayed at the point of marketing for non-domestic buildings in order to maximise their influence on buyers’ decision-making.
Recommendation 6.25: That Government, though the ERG, should mandate a requirement for post-occupancy evaluation on all central Government projects, implemented through the procurement process and requiring the involvement of design and construction members beyond the point of practical completion.
Recommendation 7.1: That infrastructure owners, policy makers and regulators should set out clearly the policy context and performance requirements for their infrastructure needs and engage with the industry to agree optimal conceptual infrastructure solutions that facilitate substantive carbon reduction before determining any specific approach.
Recommendation 7.2: That the industry needs to develop models to support the evaluation of optimal conceptual infrastructure solutions and detailed approaches that take a systems engineering approach to the balancing of the capital and operational carbon costs and benefits.
Recommendation 7.3: That the industry should research opportunities to achieve substantive reductions in carbon from better engineering of infrastructure (through design, standards, specifications and measurement) and roll out the new evaluation models and approaches through industry-wide programmes of training and professional development.
Recommendation 8.1: That a multidisciplinary consultation platform should be established now, with Government support, to bring together all of the professional, practical and academic energies of the built environment.
Recommendation 8.2: That Government and industry should work towards greater shared knowledge with other countries and become more unified in their approach to reducing emissions.
Recommendation 8.3: That, to avoid the risk of a new generation of sick buildings, the promotion of the health and well-being of occupiers should be placed on an equal footing with the current emphasis on carbon reduction.
Recommendation 8.4: That the industry should agree and implement Indoor Air Quality standards to include Indoor Air Quality plans, and enforceable targets for a maximum allowable concentration of toxic contaminants and emissions in interior environments for buildings with sealed envelopes.
Recommendation 8.5: That the 2050 Group should continue to work together after the completion of the IGT’s final report.