Energy efficiency in buildings


In 2009 buildings accounted for about 43% of all the UK’s carbon emissions. Buildings and other developments can also damage the environment, through poor waste management or inefficient use of resources.

We need to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and make sure that planning policies help to protect and improve the natural and built environment.


We have included policies in the National Planning Policy Framework to explain how developments should be planned to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment.

To reduce carbon emissions from buildings, we:

  • are requiring local planning authorities to make sure that new developments are energy efficient
  • will require all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 and are considering extending this to include all other buildings from 2019
  • have introduced the green deal to enable people to pay for home improvements over time using savings on their regular energy bills
  • have improved Energy Performance Certificates to make them more informative and user-friendly

We have introduced the Code for Sustainable Homes which provides a single national standard for the design and construction of sustainable new homes.

To help protect trees we have simplified the system for tree preservation orders.

We also work with the 9 aggregate working parties who provide technical advice about the supply and demand for aggregates such as sand, gravel and crushed rock.


The Department for Communities and Local Government is responsible for developing town and country planning policy and rules that affect the environment.

Our policies on planning and the environment are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, published in March 2012 following extensive public consultation. The framework is an important part of the government’s reforms to make the planning system less complex and more easy to understand, and to promote sustainable growth. It replaced and simplified a series of earlier planning policy statements and guidance.


It is the government’s policy to revoke existing regional strategies outside London. However, any final decision on this must take account of assessments of, and consultation on, the possible environmental effects. We are updating the earlier environmental reports and undertaking further consultation.

A written ministerial statement made by Baroness Hanham on 25 July 2012 sets out the background and explains why the reports are being updated.

Bills and legislation

All EU member states must follow the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. This requires that:

  • all properties (homes, commercial and public buildings) must have an Energy Performance Certificate when sold, built or rented
  • larger public buildings must display a Display Energy Certificate
  • all air-conditioning systems over 12kW must be regularly inspected by an Energy Assessor

The directive has been ‘recast’ and came into force on 9 January 2013. Current guidance on meeting the requirements of the directive is available in the series Energy Performance Certificates guidance.