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TV architect calls for more honesty around materials in construction and appeals for sector to ‘think bigger’

TV architect George Clarke has criticised the Hackitt Review following the Grenfell Tower, saying it  “did not go far enough” . Speaking at the BESA National Conference, he said there needed to be more honesty about product and material test results.

He labelled current government measures to address the carbon impact of housing as “a drop in the ocean” and described the 10 per cent of all UK households currently suffering from fuel poverty as a national scandal.

Mr Clarke also urged  the government to abolish VAT on the conversion of existing buildings, to help power what he called “a global retrofit revolution.”

However, he said the 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.

He 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.”

However, he said there were plenty of 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.

Mr Clarke threw its weight behind offsite fabrication, saying in his opinion there was a big future for “factory-built” housing, which could be prefabricated off-site to the highest standards and rigorously checked in a clean and safe environment. He also urged the industry to carry out more R&D to support other similar innovations.

He said: “I love this industry and think it has lots of really exciting opportunities to offer future generations,” he said.

BESA chief executive, David Frise told the Conference, for which H&V News is a media partner, that the two-day event would be a platform for “the return of hope” as the building engineering sector looked to promote its role in delivering low carbon solutions and raising professional standards.

The conference continues tomorrow and all sessions, including George Clarke’s opening Keynote, will be available to watch on demand.

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