Brian Morris, BCM's MD, writes: 

Following the closure of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle, BCM’s Brian Morris discusses what this could mean for the sustainable construction industry.

The closure of DECC and the transfer of responsibilities to the new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, lead by Greg Clark, could have real benefits for the green agenda. As the country undergoes major changes, this one looks to be one that can deliver real commercial and business benefits.

Within DECC, the green agenda was focused on carbon reduction and sustainability.  This created a problem in that the real life response was to find ways of delivering the minimum tick-box criteria.  Effort was expended to find the cheapest way of meeting the minimum or, worse, finding ways around it. Going forward, the new strategy will allow us to focus on the commercial and business benefits. By changing perspective, we can develop solutions for the Built Environment that will reduce capital and revenue costs and reduce carbon emissions into the bargain.

The Construction and Building sector is on the cusp of enormous change and at BCM we believe that the timing is right for this Governmental change. House building is undergoing further change and the next few years will see the implementation of off-site construction methods which will deliver low carbon dwellings.

The first reaction to the phrase low carbon dwellings is likely to be “that will be more expensive” as that has been the historic perception of meeting climate change obligations. However, we can look at this from a different perspective.  Why not make the dwellings energy efficient and economically feasible using off site fabrication.

For houses, this opens the possibility of meeting the bulk of their energy demands from renewable technologies.  If you use asset finance to fund the purchase of the technologies over 10 or 15 years, you have immediately not only reduced the capital cost of the build but also fixed the energy cost for the user for 10-15 years, totally changing the status quo of poorly performing houses with ever escalating energy bills.

The building of apartments will follow a similar route by introducing an energy operator to apply the same principles.

Greg Clark has a real chance here to seize the opportunity to save capital and revenue costs and reduce carbon into the bargain.  Let’s have some joined up thinking to make the most of this opportunity.

Who would have thought such a great opportunity would emerge within a few weeks of the gloom laden days of the leave vote?

Full marks to Theresa May for the vision – now let’s grasp the opportunity and embrace the changes we are experiencing.