This paper explores the barriers to energy efficiency in the construction of non-domestic buildings in the UK. The source of the barriers is argued to lie in the organisation of the construction industry, including the linear design process, the reliance on cost-based competitive tendering and the incentives placed upon different actors. The consequences include oversizing of equipment, reduced quality, neglect of whole life costs and lack of integrated design. Each of these problems can usefully be interpreted using concepts from the new institutional economics. While the barriers are well known to construction industry specialists, they are relatively neglected in the academic literature on energy policy. Furthermore, conventional policy measures such as building regulations leave these barriers largely untouched. The UK construction industry is currently undergoing a series of reforms which aim to change the relationship between different actors and to achieve improvements in product quality and productivity. While these reforms have the potential to address many of the barriers, the reform agenda makes practically no reference to sustainability. This paper argues that climate policy objectives must be integrated into the reform agenda if the UK is to begin the transition to a low carbon built environment.
Energy Policy – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2003
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