Construction projects and buildings

This section helps you find and understand the official Government Buying Standards for construction projects as well as some of the key products involved in refurbishment and facilities management – from central heating systems and air conditioning, to everyday ‘hardware’ products such as light bulbs and paints.

What does sustainability mean for construction projects and construction and hardware products?

Careful construction is one of the most effective ways to reduce energy consumption on almost any site. While new premises can set incredible standards of energy economy, there are major targets for increasing energy efficiency throughout the Government estate.

This section includes the mandated Government standard for the overall environmental impact of a building project, whether new-build or major refurbishment.

It also covers some of the key products related to construction that can have a major impact on energy and water use, from small purchases such as light bulbs to significant projects, such as heating or glazing.

While these larger projects may require substantial outlay up front, they can have a massive impact on energy bills further down the line.

For more detailed guidance on how to make sustainable choices when specifying construction materials and components – including external walls, internal walls and partitions, roofs, ground floors, upper floors, floor finishes, windows, and insulation – see the BRE Green Giude to specification.

For the procurement of water-efficient buildings, see guidance and model clauses developed by WRAP for use in procuring design, construction and facilities management services.

The Energy Efficiency Directive

Article 6 of the Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU came into force on 5 June 2014. Its obligations on central government departments, their agencies and non-departmental public bodies are (for England) set out in a Cabinet Office procurement policy note. The governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will be issuing similar administrative directions.

In brief, the requirements are:

a) All public sector bodies in scope of Article 6 must, when purchasing products and services and purchasing or renting buildings, comply with the energy efficiency standards set out in the Directive (Article 6 plus Annex III), subject to certain qualifications. In scope organisations are defined as all central government departments including non-ministerial departments, executive agencies and NDPBs.

b) Other public bodies, including local and regional government, are not obliged to do the same, but are encouraged to do so, following the example of central government. All central government departments are asked to support the application of Article 6 by bodies associated with them including at a regional and local level in any way possible. For example, through sharing their own best practice.

How does the Energy Efficiency Directive relate to Government Buying Standards?

We anticipate that for construction products that are also energy using products (for example, air conditioning units), the energy usage element of the standard will be matched or superseded by the requirements of the Energy Efficiency Directive.

As part of the transition of these SD in Government web pages to GOV.UK, Defra will be removing the energy efficiency requirements from the published GBS and replacing them with a cross reference to the Directive. Any non-energy using elements (e.g. water use, CFCs etc.) will be retained.

In the meantime, departments are advised that they need to meet the standards in Article 6 in respect of the energy using characteristics of those products. The GBS will apply in relation to other aspects of the product.

ECA guidance

The Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme is a key part of the Government’s programme to manage climate change. It provides businesses with enhanced tax relief for investments in equipment that meet the energy-saving criteria. Many of the products in this section qualify for ECA tax relief: where this is the case, you’ll see a link to the full ECA guidance on the relevant page.

Page last modified: 4 June, 2014

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