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National focus should be on energy efficiency, says study

Energy efficiency should be a "national priority", according to a new report.

A group of around 20 organisations have been working together to produce the study, which emphasises the direction the construction industry needs to be heading in to ensure a sustainable future.

Construction News reports the UK Green Council forms part of the consortium, with those behind the campaign also calling for the government to retrofit one million homes per year until 2020 to ensure they are up to standard.

The environment and housing sectors are also represented and all parties argue ministers should be spending an annual £3-4 billion on an energy efficiency programme that will improve the country's stock of housing.

Their demands appear to fall in line with the Treasury's National Infrastructure Plan, which has highlighted the impact that reducing energy wastage in domestic properties can have.

Controlling gas and electricity bills, supporting economic growth and reducing the effects of climate change are the government's three strategic priorities for energy infrastructure, with the lowering of national energy consumption recognised as one of the most cost-effective ways of achieving these.

The consortium has listed a number of additional benefits that it believes will come about as a result of the investment it is calling on, including the doubling of the number of jobs in the energy efficiency market, helping nine out of ten homes out of fuel poverty and reducing the UK's reliance on imported gas.

This latter advantage is an issue that has been heavily focused on recently, with the European Union looking to protect the interests of its members who buy the majority of their resources from Russia, after concerns the nation will use its position for political gain in the future.

Writing for Construction News, sustainability director at Keepmoat Nigel Banks said: "We live in a time when we have the technology to build new homes and transform existing homes so that they barely need any heating at all to stay warm and comfortable.

"A cold winter this year would put this policy front and centre in the general election campaign given there are seven million voters living in fuel poverty."