What Tax Incentives Are Available for Developing Eco-Friendly Buildings in the UK?

April 5, 2024

Tax incentives play a vital role in encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practices. In the UK, there are a number of tax credits and relief programs aimed at promoting green building and energy efficiency. We’ll explore these opportunities and how they might benefit your business.

Harnessing Renewable Energy: Feed-In Tariffs (FITs)

The UK’s Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) provide a remuneration based on the amount of renewable energy your business generates. This initiative was developed to promote the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, wind energy, and hydropower, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and improving our overall sustainability.

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If your business operates a micro-generation system like solar panels or wind turbines, you could be eligible for these incentives. The tariffs are divided into generation and export payments. The former is paid based on the amount of energy you generate, while the latter is for any surplus energy you feed back into the national grid. Your business can reduce its energy costs and lower its carbon footprint, making FITs a win-win for both your company and the environment.

Green Construction: The Land Remediation Relief (LRR)

Environmental sustainability is a crucial aspect of modern building design. The Land Remediation Relief (LRR) offers a boon for businesses committed to this goal. The LRR is a corporate tax relief that allows businesses to claim up to 150% of qualifying land remediation costs against their taxable profits.

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This incentive is particularly attractive for companies involved in the construction and development of buildings on brownfield sites—previously developed areas that are not currently in use but have potential for redevelopment. By providing a significant tax relief, this policy encourages businesses to invest in the remediation of contaminated or derelict land, rather than developing greenfield sites.

Carbon Reduction: The Climate Change Levy (CCL)

The Climate Change Levy (CCL) is a tax on energy delivered to non-domestic users in the UK. It’s intended to incentivize businesses to reduce their energy use and carbon emissions. However, there’s an opportunity for businesses to reduce their CCL payments through the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) scheme.

Under the CCA scheme, businesses that commit to achieving energy efficiency or carbon-saving targets can receive a discount on the CCL. For businesses investing in energy-saving technology or implementing energy-efficient practices, the CCA can provide a significant reduction in operating costs.

Research and Development: R&D Tax Credits

R&D tax credits provide a valuable opportunity for businesses engaged in developing new or improved products, services, or processes that will advance their field of science or technology. If your business is involved in developing energy-efficient materials or sustainable construction methods, you may be eligible for these credits.

R&D tax credits can cover up to 33% of your business’s qualifying R&D costs. This includes costs related to staff, software, consumables, and subcontracted work. By investing in sustainable R&D projects, your business can not only benefit from tax relief but also contribute to the fight against climate change.

Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs): Energy-Saving Equipment

The Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA) scheme encourages businesses to invest in energy-saving equipment. Under this scheme, businesses can claim first-year capital allowances on their investment, effectively reducing their taxable income.

To benefit from ECAs, your business needs to invest in equipment that’s on the Energy Technology Product List (ETPL), which includes a wide range of energy-saving technologies. This initiative can significantly reduce your business’s energy costs and environmental impact, making it a smart choice for eco-conscious businesses.

Tax Relief for Low Carbon Construction: Zero-Rate VAT

In the UK, the construction industry is a significant contributor to carbon emissions. In an effort to promote low carbon and green building practices, the government offers a zero-rate VAT on certain types of construction. This tax incentive is specifically designed to motivate construction companies to incorporate energy-efficient design elements into their projects.

For a construction project to be eligible for the zero-rate VAT, it must meet certain criteria. One of the key requirements is that the property being constructed or converted must be a dwelling or a residential property for a relevant residential purpose. Other requirements include ensuring the property is self-contained and separate.

It’s also essential that the majority of the materials used in the construction process are energy-efficient. These include insulation materials, solar panels, ground source heat pumps, and wind turbines among others. By providing this tax relief, the government hopes to encourage the use of such materials, ultimately leading to a more sustainable built environment.

This can significantly reduce the overall cost of construction for a company, making green building a more appealing and financially viable option. As a result, this can stimulate the growth of low carbon construction and contribute significantly to the overall goal of reducing carbon emissions in the UK construction industry.

Public Sector Decarbonisation: Salix Finance

The public sector has a crucial role to play in the fight against climate change. To enable this, the UK government, through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), has established Salix Finance. This fund provides interest-free loans to public sector bodies to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

The loans can be used to finance up to 100% of the costs of energy-saving projects. Public sector bodies such as schools, hospitals, and local authorities can apply for these loans to finance a wide range of projects that can help reduce their energy use. This can include upgrading to energy-efficient lighting or heating systems, installing insulation, or making use of renewable energy sources.

By offering this financial support, the government is helping public sector bodies to meet their environmental taxes obligations, whilst also reducing their energy costs. The benefits of this tax credit scheme extend beyond the financial savings. By implementing energy-efficient measures, public sector bodies can help to reduce the UK’s overall carbon emissions and contribute to the fight against climate change.


The UK government offers an array of tax incentives to promote green building practices and energy efficiency. From the Feed-In Tariffs for renewable energy generation to the Land Remediation Relief for brownfield site development, and from the Climate Change Levy discounts for carbon reduction to R&D tax credits for sustainable innovation, businesses have various avenues to reduce their tax liabilities while contributing to the fight against climate change.

The construction industry, in particular, can benefit immensely from these incentives. By taking advantage of the zero-rate VAT and the Enhanced Capital Allowances, construction companies can significantly reduce their costs and promote the use of low carbon practices. Meanwhile, the public sector can leverage Salix Finance to decarbonise their operations, helping the UK meet its environmental targets.

It is clear that these tax incentives not only make economic sense for businesses but also have a positive impact on the environment. As such, businesses should embrace these opportunities to not only save on their taxes but also to play their part in creating a more sustainable future.