Energy efficiency in the spotlight
Posted on 22nd October 2019
Just like us, the UK’s housing stock is starting to feel its age.
Almost four out of 10 (38%) of our homes were built before 1947, which makes them some of the oldest and leakiest in Europe.
Looking to the future, the government plans to introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025 and has just launched a consultation about proposed changes to the Building Regulations.
The plan is to reduce the UK’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
The Standard describes what the government thinks a home built to help meet these targets should be like. They want new homes to have 75% to 80% less carbon emissions than those we are currently building.
The consultation includes enhanced energy efficiency standards for 2020 as a stepping-stone to the Future Homes Standard.
Two options are included:
Option 1 – a 20% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the current standard for an average home, which could be delivered by very high-quality building materials (including triple-glazing and minimal heat loss from walls, ceilings and roofs).
Option 2 – a 31% reduction in carbon emissions, which could be delivered by installing carbon-saving technology such as solar panels and using better building materials, although the standards wouldn’t be as high as option 1 (for example, double- not triple- glazing).
The government prefers Option 2 because it would deliver more carbon savings and result in lower bills for householders, although it would add to building costs.
To help the new requirements to introduced quickly the proposals would simplify the Building Regulations and especially Parts L and F that have the biggest impact on heating and hot water systems.
These could be a challenge for large construction projects that are already underway, who might need to change to the new standard. It could also have an impact for businesses working on smaller developments who would need to introduce the new standards sooner than their larger competitors.
To improve consistency the proposals would also stop local planning authorities setting energy efficiency standards that are higher than those in the Building Regulations.
In the meantime…
While the consultation is about new domestic buildings there will be more information soon about energy efficiency for existing domestic buildings and for new and existing non-domestic buildings.
For anyone living or working in an interesting but possibly expensive-to-run older property, one of the biggest challenges is how to improve energy performance cost-effectively.
Homeowners, local authorities and housing associations are all looking for help and reliable products to solve these thorny problems. Next year’s Futurebuild event is going be all about clever new retrofit solutions.
From robots that can inspect, monitor and maintain the health of our buildings and install insulation, to demand-controlled ventilation systems, all sorts of new products, processes, materials and ideas are becoming available.
Our 27 million UK homes contribute around 40% of current CO2 emissions. Experts say that between one and three million UK homes must improve their energy efficiency every year to meet the government’s 2050 net-zero carbon target.
The new specification (PAS 2035:2019) for energy efficiency retrofit standards came into effect in June. It specifies requirements to take account of the whole building during retrofit projects.
We are always keen to get involved in interesting and challenging projects in new and older properties.
Give us a call, we would be really interested to hear about your energy-efficiency project.
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