Developers of office buildings and shopping centres will have to build them to zero-carbon standards by 2019. Financial Times

The move marks a stepping up of the pressure on property companies, which are already compelled to produce entirely green homes by 2016.

The industry has been targeted by the government because it is responsible for about half of emissions in the UK.

But the new regulations on commercial buildings are likely to come with a heavy price for companies, given that it typically costs an extra 10% or more to make a building carbon neutral.

With commercial property values in freefall – they have dropped by more than 10% in the past year – the extra burden on developers could have a big impact on projects.

The government estimates that the initiative could save up to 75m tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. All new public buildings would have to be zero carbon a year earlier than private buildings – from 2018 rather than 2019.

The British Property Federation said the move was 'both workable and viable' and said it supported the government’s decision.