Our direction needs to be built on the clear objective to upgrade quality.
Analysing the property landscape in a scientific manner based on data is of great importance. It is fundamental in understanding present and future trends. An occasion for reflection of the current situation as well as a basis for discussion to forge the future of this sector.
I firmly believe that this sector is of great importance particularly in the light of the extensive investments Maltese families, businesses and financial institutions have made over the years. We are at an interesting juncture. We need to take stock and a number of decisions following a wide discussion between all stakeholders.
Our direction needs to be built on the clear objective to upgrade quality. Quality of the buildings that are planned and designed, quality in the way construction of buildings is carried out and the operational qualities of the available buildings.
We cannot address the future landscape of Malta’s property market without taking into consideration one of the most pressing and challenging issues worldwide, Climate Change.
It poses both environmental and socioeconomic threats. Its effects are being felt and they are set to increase. Action is needed for it is a truly urgent matter.
One-third of global GHG emissions are due to building-related energy consumption. Sustainable buildings are a must if climate change is to be tackled effectively. However, this does not mean, and in no way should it be an excuse, for less affordable housing. Affordable housing and sustainable buildings are not in conflict. They should complement each other. The study that is being published provides very interesting results to this effect.
Energy-efficient buildings actually improve the quality of peoples’ lives whilst adding additional benefits to the economy and to society as a whole.
We need to enhance our efforts together with major stakeholders ensure that we have more energy-efficient buildings. This objective has to be achieved without putting additional burdens on consumers. It is crucial that all relevant stakeholders are involved. The aim is to strike a balance between achieving greater energy efficiency and economic feasibility so that people are not burdened in the process.
Balance is key. It is imperative that public and private stakeholders within the building industry scale up their efforts to provide energy-efficient property that is affordable for consumers.
This requires behavioural changes, by developers, contractors, industry professionals and consumers. Given that the construction sector remains attached to traditional practices, the need to take a step-by-step approach is a necessary step forward. There is a growing focus on raising standards, harmonizing regulations, and upgrading working methods and rules in a staggered process.
There is a need to regenerate and improve vocational subjects and recognize new skills, such as green jobs and technical professionals, and to upscale and generate innovative practices and regulatory aspects to ensure that the sector moves to new standards.
The Government has embarked on a number of initiatives to ensure better quality in the construction sector.
In the foremost we are on the eve of concluding a consultation process on the proposed legislation that for the first time ever, will introduce the obligatory licensing of contractors in the fields of demolition, excavation and construction. Our endeavour to regulate the construction sector will have to be followed by other regulations with regard to the upgrading of skills of all those involved in the sector. The obligatory licensing of other trades will also follow in due course.
The level of interest and discussion that the Public Consultation has generated in the country is noteworthy. The next step is for the Building and Construction Authority to evaluate all suggestions and proposals put forward during the Consultation process and propose the necessary amendments to the Draft Legal Notice which will eventually become law. As government we are determined to implement this reform in the proposed timeframes thus ensuring that the transition occurs within a realistic timeframe yet clearly achieving the desired objectives.
The licensing regime is a bold and necessary step to strenghten the regulatory framework and raise the skills of those who carry out these works. We need to strengthen the current regulatory framework and ensure levels of competence and other requirements for anyone operating in this sector.
We shall continue with further initiatives to ensure that the impact of projects during their execution is addressed. This is not only an issue of regulation but also a question of an industry that must upgrade its methods and systems of work whilst embracing more environmentally friendly techniques.
The upgrading of the Energy Performance Certificate is another task currently being carried out by the Building and Construction Authority. as this has to reflect today’s realities. This certificate will, in the coming months, gain more importance as it becomes more rigorous to provide a very true picture of the energy efficiency of each building. This will also contribute towards creating more awareness in consumers to search for energy efficient buildings when deciding on buying new properties.
The average consumer, in my opinion, is not yet adequately aware of energy performance in buildings. Thus it is of great importance that consumers are made more aware of the qualities and advantages of energy efficient buildings. Information is key. I firmly believe that estate agents have an important role to this effect. When promoting property on the marketing, it is high time that estate agents take an active role in promoting energy efficiency in buildings.
Energy performance within buildings is an important element to achieve our decarbonisation goals. However, it is evident that energy performance shall determine the availability of finance as well as other regulatory requirements that must be adhered to.
This is a clear message to all stakeholders particularly developers that we need to update the manner in which projects are carried out. We have no time to lose.
We must collectively embark on a collective journey towards higher quality in the real estate sector. Our success depends on this paradigm shift.