Shops and offices to go eco-friendly

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Ministers are launching an urgent drive to make the country's shops and offices ecofriendly to tackle global warming.

Yvette Cooper, the housing and planning minister, is drawing up a series of deadlines by which all new commercial buildings will have to be "zero carbon" - adding no carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change, to the atmosphere.

The move follows the Government's announcement at the end of last year that all new homes must be "zero carbon" within a decade, and ministers hope that shops and supermarkets, at least, will be able to meet a similar target.

Ms Cooper said: "Buildings account for half of the country's carbon emissions. We have set ambitious targets for housing and are now determined to make rapid progress on commercial buildings too."

She has commissioned a task force, with members drawn from the property industry, retailers and environmental groups, which will issue its first report this summer.

The drive to make both homes and workplaces environmentally friendly was fuelled by a visit she made to Sweden and the Netherlands last autumn, when she visited zero-carbon houses and offices, including one building that was cooled by a lake in its grounds.

Pioneering office buildings in Britain include the CIS Tower in Manchester, which is being clad in 7,244 solar power panels.

Additional research by Daniel Turner

The green office

1. Open plan

2. Big atrium

3. Communal desks for multiple users

4. Floor coverings made from hemp or recycled newspapers

5. Floor tiles made from recycled lightbulbs

6. Large, well-insulated windows, with solar shades

7. Chilled beams carrying cooled water at chest height

8. Clear, white walls

9. Solar panels

10. Windmill

11. Low-energy computers

12. Furniture made from recycled wood

13. Recycling units and bins in the office for paper and other waste

14. Low-energy lighting; automatically dims when the sun comes up and switches off when no one is in the room.

15. Loos and basins made from recycled bottles

16. Waterless urinals

17. Greywater system that collects rainwater and recycles waste water

18. Air conditioning from underground heat exchanger

19. Recyled paper

20. Recyclable photocopiers

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