STANDARDS OF energy efciency in housing and buildings across the UK must improve in order to combat fuel poverty, energy minister Malcolm Wicks told the ICE and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) last week.
'Energy reduction is critical.
Endeavours by the ICE and RIBA can move us in the right direction, ' Wicks said.
The minister was speaking at the institutions' joint reception on climate change, sponsored by the Carbon Trust, at the Labour Party conference in Manchester.
'Housing is a slovenly partner and is not to the standard that people in Britain deserve. In Sweden houses are being built that are so efcient no outside energy is required, ' Wicks told the audience, adding that the UK must learn from its European counterparts.
Incoming ICE president Quentin Leiper set out the challenge for the industry. 'We face a turning point in how we live. Homeowners need to make changes with more energy-efficient heating systems, insulation and micro-generation.
'Engineers have the technology to make the world cleaner and better, ' Leiper said. 'But we need to lead by example and we welcome the introduction of energy certication of public buildings.
'Cost and planning issues get in the way of adoption of efcient technologies, but the hardest task in developing the technology is in [cultivating] skills.
'We must start in the classroom and do more to get students to continue with maths and science.' RIBA president Jack Pringle also acknowledged the responsibility that the construction industry has to improve energy usage.
'The task is huge, ' he said.
'In his conference speech, Tony Blair reafrmed the government's commitment to reducing carbon emissions to 60% (of 1990 levels) by 2050.
'RIBA is in the process of signing up to the contraction and convergence agenda that seeks 80% reduction, ' he said.
Contraction and convergence is a tool for managing CO 2 and other greenhouse gases, which assumes there will be a convergence to a point where the entitlement of a nation to emit these gases will become proportional to population.
A joint reception was also held at the Liberal Democrat conference earlier this month attracting environment spokesman Chris Huhne MP. A meeting was also due to take place at the Conservative Party Conference this week.