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Half of British Businesses Worry about Energy Costs – Gov’t Says Knock Down Old Buildings

BritishcityAbout 49 percent of 700 UK businesses surveyed said they are concerned about energy price hikes in 2010, according to a report from Carbon Trust. The report also finds that concerns about energy prices are highest in industries with high energy use such as construction (55 percent), manufacturing (53 percent) and hospitality (52 percent).

However, fewer businesses, about 13 percent, are worried about complying with environmental legislation, according to the study. Other findings indicate that 61 percent of respondents are worried about the state of the economy and 49 percent are worried about higher taxes.

Carbon Trust recently kicked off a program to persuade British companies to stop wasting over £3 billion (approximately $4.8 billion) of energy every year, by offering a free Carbon Survey.

Carbon Trust says the Carbon Survey is available free of charge to all businesses that spend between £50,000 ($80,000) and £3 million ($4.8 million) on energy each year, and provides the services of an energy expert on site and a tailored energy-saving action plan. The survey typically identifies possible savings on energy costs of between 20 percent and 30 percent.

However, many British buildings, particularly those built in the sixties and seventies, may not be so lucky to get energy-efficient retrofits, and instead will have to be torn down to meet carbon emission standards for buildings, reports Times Online.

The UK Government’s new chief construction adviser told Times Online that many towns would have to undergo an eco-makeover because it would be impossible to refurbish some of those buildings to a sufficiently high standard to help meet the government’s target to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, compared to levels in the 1990s.

However, radical retrofits have been achieved. Case in point: A dilapidated 1960s-era office building in Winchester, England, now boasts a 70 percent drop in energy consumption, after a significant retrofit, which won the project the “Sustainable Project of the Year” in the UK’s Building/UKGBC Awards 2009.

Property is responsible for 50 percent of the UK’s carbon emissions, according to the British Property Federation, reports Times Online, and the government has a zero-carbon target for all new commercial buildings built from 2018.

The government also is committed to a consultation on the introduction of display energy certificates (DECs), which show offices’ and shops’ energy use, which the British Property Federation supports because they are based on actual energy use, reports Times Online.

In the United States, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) released its prototype building energy labeling program in June last year.

The Policy Exchange estimates that Britain would need to spend about £400 billion (approximately $640 billion) on new and refurbished infrastructure by 2020, reports Times Online.

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