George Clarke calls for ‘global retrofit revolution’

TV presenter and architect George Clarke (left) with CMYA 2021 winner Marc Burton (centre) and CIOB president Mike Foy (right)

Architect and TV presenter George Clarke has called on the government to spark a “global retrofit revolution” by abolishing VAT on the restoration and conversion of existing buildings.

Clarke, who presented the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Construction Manager of the Year Awards at the end of September, made the call in a keynote address launching the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) National Conference 2021.

Clarke argued that construction and building engineering sectors could play a key role in addressing the climate crisis, but financial incentives would be needed to encourage investment and new approaches from building owners.

Clarke said: “We wasted six years when the government dropped its Zero Carbon Homes plan and the Green Home Grants scheme only lasted six months… we need to think much, much bigger… and show everyone why improving their homes is to their benefit and how it can help them save money.”

He added there were reasons to be optimistic and urged the industry to reinvent itself by inspiring young people to work with the wide range of new technologies being used to build greener and more sustainable structures.

Clarke said there was a future for offsite-manufactured housing and urged the industry to carry out more R&D to support other similar innovations.

The BESA National Conference was opened by the association’s president Neil Brackenridge, who explained that the overall theme was ‘Building back better, safer, greener’.

“We will be looking in detail at how we as an industry are contributing to rebuilding the economy as well as delivering the requirements of new building safety legislation, modernising the sector’s workforce, and pushing on towards a net-zero emissions future,” he said.

The conference continues on 4 November and all sessions, including George Clarke’s opening keynote, are available to watch on demand.

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