A new government task force is to set deadlines for emissions cuts for non-residential buildings

Housing minister Yvette Cooper is ramping up the government's drive to cut climate change caused by the built environment by turning her attention from houses to commercial buildings.

The minister is drawing up deadlines by which all new shops and offices will need to be zero carbon.

She has assembled a task force comprising representatives from the property industry, retailers and environmental groups, which is expected to issue its first report this summer.

The move follows the government's announcement at the end of last year that all new homes must be zero carbon by 2016.

“Buildings account for half of the country's carbon emissions,” said Ms Cooper.

“We have set ambitious targets for housing and are now determined to make rapid progress on commercial buildings too.”

Cooper's initiative was inspired in part by a visit to see zero-carbon housing and offices in Sweden and the Netherlands in the autumn.

The British Property Federation, which has been working closely with Cooper's office, welcomed the announcement. But a spokesman said that whether the move was enforceable would depend on the deadlines set. He added that it was crucial not only to focus on the energy performance of new buildings, but also to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings. due to issue its first report in the summer.