On Thursday the 23rd of June, the UK will decide on its membership of the European Union. Thus far, it has been a closely fought debate with arguments presented by the Brexit and Remain campaigns. One key discussion point is the future of the legislative landscape for the environmental sector. This touches on the built environment and wildlife, as well as climate change targets. On the whole, there is consensus that voters lacked information throughout the period leading up to the referendum to take sustainability and the environmental issues into account.
Drawing on a survey of key professionals within the industry, the latest webinar held by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) suggested that:
- Sustainability professionals thought the EU provides greater stability for environmental policy;
- The UK is a leader on environmental and climate change policy;
- The EU presents opportunities for the circular economy and fosters collaboration
In a similar way, the Institute of European Environmental Policy (IEEP) concluded in its latest report, “Potential Policy and Environmental Implications for the UK of a departure from the EU” that the UK’s environmental policy has been partly influenced by its EU membership. The IEEP argued that Brexit would trigger uncertainty unless the UK had alternatives in place. Going forward, the UK will need to review its environmental policy and significant transformations are set to take place.
The legislative landscape will be crucial to spur investment within the industry. In relation to real estate, links between property value and sustainability performance have already been established and this realisation will be further supported through environmental legislation. The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has recently commented on the possible impacts of the outcome of the EU referendum, with those requirements linked to the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) expected to be affected the most. This includes the Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme, which are linked to the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).
What is most certain are the unknown consequences of the EU referendum. Environmental and climate change consequences for the built environment and relevant legislation will be key areas of change.
Burns et al (2016) presents a summary of the scenarios and uncertainty levels. It is clear that the leave scenario presents the greatest uncertainty, with the potential of key transformations in the UK’s environmental policy. It seems that sustainability professionals must await on the side-lines as the debate draws to a close.
Table 1 The EU Referendum and the UK Environment (Burns et al, 2016)
Whatever the outcome, specific legislation within the UK, such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) coupled with the potential of a reformed legislative landscape means that all businesses operating within the built environment must be prepared for all eventualities. Sustainability and productivity within the built environment are valued globally not least in the business sense, but on a social level as well.
As for EVORA, regardless of the outcome, we are well positioned to navigate our clients through the post-EU referendum environment. With offices in the UK and Europe and a depth of knowledge within the industry, we will continue to help our clients manage their risks and realise the business case for sustainability.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss any sustainability issues, please contact our experts today, who will be happy to advise you on the best course of action.
Burns, C., A. Jordan, V. Gravey, N. Berny, S. Bulmer, N. Carter, R. Cowell, J. Dutton, B. Moore S. Oberthür, S. Owens, T. Rayner, J. Scott and B. Stewart (2016) The EU Referendum and the UK Environment: An Expert Review. How has EU membership affected the UK and what might change in the event of a vote to Remain or Leave? Executive Summary
(Photo: Rock Cohen, Flickr Creative Commons)
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