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by Chartered institute of Building
07 December 2022
Associate Feature: Chartered institute of Building motion before parliament offers opportunity for crucial discussion on the sustainability and energy-efficiency of Scotland's built environment

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Associate Feature: Chartered institute of Building motion before parliament offers opportunity for crucial discussion on the sustainability and energy-efficiency of Scotland's built environment

Like the rest of the world, Scotland is facing a climate emergency. The Scottish Government has recognised the evidence of the crisis is irrefutable and the Scottish people expect action. The Scottish Government has set necessarily ambitious net zero objectives across several policy portfolios and carbon emissions from heating buildings need to reach net-zero by 2045. In order to realise these objectives at the pace and scale needed to achieve net zero targets, creative policy solutions will be required. The status quo will simply not do.

To address this, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and Paul McLennan MSP have submitted a motion which provides a conduit to continue critical discussions about Scotland's built environment's sustainability and energy efficiency.  We are calling on members of the Scottish Parliament to join in this conversation by lending their support to this motion as part of a wider strategy to decarbonise the construction sector.

The motion calls for the Scottish Government to consider the findings of CIOB's recent report, “Levelling the playing field, not Scotland's built environment”, which outlines the potential value of a demolition levy to aid in creating a more sustainable built environment. Over 50% of carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings, and half of the waste produced in Scotland is generated from construction and demolition. Clearly, the built environment sector has a central role to play in tackling the climate crisis. Our built environment also significantly impacts the health and wellbeing of Scotland's communities. As households continue to face a cost-of-living crisis and high energy prices, the quality and energy efficiency of homes are increasingly important.  

The industry is ready and willing to innovate, but urgent sectoral transformation will require input and engagement from policymakers, who are well positioned through evidence-based, effective policy implementation, to catalyse such a shift. As outlined in CIOB’s report, international evidence suggests that a demolition levy could be an effective means of incentivising retrofit and repair. A levy would reduce waste, create jobs and develop a new revenue stream. The funding generated by the levy could be used to support homeowners and social landlords to make energy-efficient upgrades to housing or help low-income and vulnerable households cope with home repairs and rising fuel prices.  

Addressing the sustainability of the built environment will require coordinated, creative action – and in short order. CIOB wants this report to stimulate discussion and creative thinking about how Scotland's devolved powers can be used to support the construction industry's role in realising our collective sustainability goals.  To that end, we urge members to support the motion before parliament in order to continue this critical dialogue in the Chamber.

Key findings for the report: 

  • Since over 50% of carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings, the built environment sector has a significant role to play in achieving Scotland's net zero ambitions and tackling the climate crisis
  • The UK's current VAT structure financially incentivises demolition and rebuild over renovation and retrofit projects
  • Research from the Construction Industry Collective Voice suggests that if VAT on retrofit was reduced from 20% to 5%, it could generate £80 million and support between 1,500-7,500 full-time equivalent jobs in Scotland.
  • In the absence of tax reform, creative policy options are needed – and in short order. 
  • Evidence suggests that a demolition levy, applied in the Scottish context, could catalyse a shift in priority to favour retrofit projects, helping to re-balance the economic scales between retrofitting and rebuilding. 
  • Recent statistics from Energy Action Scotland have identified that 24% of Scottish households live in fuel poverty, with rates increasing by 10% nationally over just one year. Upgrading the energy efficiency of existing homes through repair, maintenance, and improvement work is crucial to addressing the fundamental causes of fuel poverty. 
  • The revenues from a demolition levy could fund green initiatives that support energy-efficient upgrades to housing, help low-income and vulnerable households cope with home repairs and rising fuel prices, or preserve Scotland's historic building stock. 

 

For more information contact Jocelyne Fleming: jfleming@ciob.org.uk

This article is sponsored by the CIOB.

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