Construction minister Mark Prisk will co-chair the new Green Construction Board, with an industry co-chair to be chosen within weeks.
Speaking at the launch of the government’s response to the Innovation and Growth Team Low Carbon Construction report in Westminster today, Mr Prisk, who will be joined on the board by chief construction adviser Paul Morrell, said the report was the culmination of six months of action from the government.
Mr Prisk said: “We see this as a starting point on the road, not a definitive list as there will be new challenges we will need to adapt to.
“We recognise the need for greater transparency and clarity and the GCB will be focused on outcomes because while there are low carbon opportunities for many businesses there will also be considerable challenges.”
Mr Morrell hailed the response as a “terrific platform for going forward” despite acknowledging that several recommendations had been ignored.
However he insisted that industry now needed to calm down and settle into a 40-year programme of delivering against sustainability challenges.
Speaking about the new board, Mr Morrell told Construction News: “This is a difficult moment to talk about its structural activity as we will need to be patient until the board meets for the first time in September but it has to provide a clear brief across government.
“There is a lot of work to be done, for example we will need to learn how to build zero carbon hospitals and zero carbon fire stations and focus on practical delivery.”
He said members of the GCB would be recruited over the coming months and that the board would feed through the new Government Construction Board, which Mr Morrell chairs and which met for the first time last week.
Speaking about the industry’s desire to have a clearer response on whole life carbon, Mr Morrell said the government’s response could not legislate for a clear route as it did not have clear enough methods or data at present.
“We can’t just say ‘do it’ because we don’t know how to do it but we have to come up with a way,” he said.
Speaking about the potential for industry to withhold from sharing data and information, Mr Morrell said that there was now no competitive advantage in knowing how to count carbon and the industry would recognise that there was no need for multiple methods of sourcing data.
Meanwhile, when asked by CN about whether each government department was committed to carbon reduction targets, Mr Prisk insisted the report had the full backing of government.
He said: “Last night I was talking to [climate change minister] Greg Barker; [cabinet office minister] Francis Maude is leading in terms of procurement; the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are taking this very seriously; and the Prime Minister is actively involved in this process.
“I am not finding any institutional resistance and I am genuinely very encouraged by that.”
Mr Maude said: “We have shown how, by working with the industry, we can make big cost savings, while still investing in one of Britain’s vital industries.
“The IGT report demonstrates the clear advantages for both the private and public sector by adopting an energy efficient approach to construction.”