ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE – ENERGY EFFICIENCY – 4 June 2009

Dr Julian Lewis: What recent assessment he has made of the energy efficiency of domestic and commercial buildings in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Joan Ruddock): The energy efficiency of individual domestic and non-domestic buildings is assessed primarily through energy performance certificates, which are required for all buildings when constructed, sold or let. The heat and energy saving consultation, published in February, sought evidence about energy efficiency in non-domestic buildings and asked for views on potential policy responses. We are now considering the responses to the consultation.]

[SUPPLEMENTARY:] Is it not a fact that between 1997 and the present day there has been hardly any improvement in household energy efficiency in the United Kingdom, according to ODEX, the index that measures these matters, and is it not a fact that in the preceding period – the years leading up to 1997 – there was a 14 per cent. increase in household energy efficiency? What is it about this Government that has destroyed the improvement, as measured by the internationally accepted standard?

[Joan Ruddock: This country has a long history of poorly insulated buildings, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, goes back many generations. The Government are making a real effort to ensure that much more attention is paid to insulation. We have already insulated 5 million buildings in the domestic sector as a consequence of our carbon emissions reduction target provisions and the obligations on energy companies. Our current programme will lead to the insulation of a further 6 million buildings, and, as I said earlier, we have introduced energy performance certificates. We have the green homes service, run by the Energy Saving Trust, and we have the Act On CO2 helpline. There are many, many strategies in place, and we are making improvements. People are saving money as a result of our policies, and they are lowering their carbon emissions. However, we accept that there is much more to be done. We recently engaged in a major consultation on a heat and energy saving strategy, which will bring about improvements in millions of houses over the next few years.] ...

[TOPICAL QUESTION:] We have established that domestic energy efficiency improvements under the Conservatives came to an almost grinding halt under this Government, but what about Government Departments? According to the display energy certificates for the 17 Departments, only two achieved a grade C and three achieved a grade E. Seven were graded F and five got the bottom grade of G, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Is that what the Government regard as leading by example?

[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Joan Ruddock): As the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, the fact is that many Government buildings are very ancient or are listed buildings. DECC is in that category. It is extremely difficult for a Department to raise its standards quickly when it is occupying such a building, but we are absolutely determined to do so. We are looking at every aspect of the heating, the ventilation, the water use and the waste in that building. We are committed overall as a Government to a 12.5 per cent. reduction in emissions from Government Departments by 2010 and we are confident that we now have in place sufficient measures to achieve that.]