The All Party Urban Development Group held its first parliamentary inquiry into greening existing offices, shops and warehouses takes yesterday.
Half of the buildings currently in use will still be occupied in fifty years, so tackling the existing commercial buildings will be an opportunity to make the biggest impact in reducing emissions says the British Property Federation. Commercial property contributes around a fifth of the country's carbon emissions.
The inquiry is an opportunity for industry leaders and public figures to present evidence which will feed into the group's final report, due out in July.
Business leaders have been calling for coherent definitions and real evidence on the financial impact of various green measures. Tax incentives to encourage property owners and occupiers to refurbish their buildings will also be high on the agenda.
Director of policy at the Carbon Trust Dr David Vincent, said: "UK buildings are responsible for around 45% of the UK's total carbon footprint.
"Notwithstanding the welcome attention being paid to reducing emissions from new buildings going forward, the real challenge is how to make substantial reductions of carbon emissions associated with existing buildings. Estimates vary but 60% of the carbon emissions in 2050 could come from buildings already here today."
Concerns are likely to be raised about the lack of clear guidance over standards and information on costs/benefits of particular schemes and how the industry can bear those costs amid the current downturn.
Head of sustainability at Drivers Jonas Jon Lovell said: "In a nutshell, investors need confidence that tackling the environmental performance of existing assets will lead to safeguarded or improved returns. That relies on occupier demand, a coherent fiscal and policy framework and much more coherent information against which the performance of stock can be understood and compared."