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Post-occupancy assessments needed urgently, says reportMarch 2008

Government departments are failing to meet the sustainability standards for the construction and refurbishment of buildings on the government estate, a Commons select committee has concluded.

The report, Building for the Future: Sustainable Construction and Refurbishment on the Government Estate, by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts found that mandatory environmental assessments were carried out in only 35 percent of new builds and 18 percent of major refurbishment projects in 2005-6. Only 9 percent of projects could be shown to meet the required environmental standards.

MPs also found that lines of accountability, leadership, and enforcement are split across different departments and organisations.

Departments were also slated for making poor progress against their environmental targets for estate management, which include significant reductions in water use and carbon emissions and the achievement of carbon neutrality by 2012.

MPs admonished Helen Ghosh, Permanent Secretary, at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for "failing to undertake post-occupancy evaluations and for failing to carry out whole-life costing."

The Treasury, DEFRA and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) need to lead and support departments "in adopting more sustainable approaches to their work", said the report.

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