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Guidance can help agents drive sustainability improvements, property groups say

Helping agents to better understand sustainability issues when brokering deals for the sale and lease of commercial properties will help drive better overall understanding of energy efficiency, a group of some of the UK's biggest property owners has said.05 Apr 2012

The Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) has published a new 'Toolkit' on sustainability aimed at the agents. The guide (88-page / 5.53MB PDF) will help agents articulate how energy efficient buildings can help support the corporate social responsibility aims of clients as well as identify methods of how to achieve this. It also sets out the key differences between some of the ratings used when assessing the sustainability of buildings, the BBP said.

Property law expert Siobhan Cross of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, sat on the working group that put the Toolkit together.

"The agent is effectively at the centre of the, all too familiar, circle of blame and hence the key to transforming it into a circle of change," Louise Ellison, head of sustainability at property company Quintain and chair of the working group said in a statement.

"The BBP members are now looking for the agents that we engage with to be much better informed on green issues and support our aims in providing more sustainable buildings for occupiers. We therefore felt we also have a role to play in developing guidance to support them in developing that knowledge. An agency community that is well informed about sustainability has the power to raise expectations rapidly and, with them, standards within the commercial stock," Ellison said.

The Government currently has a number of targets aimed at reducing toxic emissions into the atmosphere and making the UK more reliant on renewable energy.

In its Heat Strategy the Government set out plans to reduce carbon emissions caused by heating homes, buildings and offices, with a view to cutting emissions entirely by 2050.

Almost half the energy consumed in the UK is used to generate heat for buildings and water, in cooking food and the manufacture of goods, and the majority of this energy comes from burning fossil fuels. This year the country will spend around £33 billion on heat across the economy, according to Government figures.

The 2011 Carbon Plan stated that if the UK is to meet its goal of reducing emissions to 80% of 1990 figures by 2050, it must reduce emissions from buildings to near zero.