Roadblocks to 2013 improvements and achieving Zero Carbon (Part 1)

Back in August 2007, a large number of interested parties signed up to a commitment of intent to achieving zero carbon by 2016 and to taking the necessary steps towards achieving it.

Since then, there seems to have been some wavering in resolve as to just how fast the move to a reduced carbon target should be, Some trade organisations and think tanks who include amongst their membership signatories to the above 2016 commitment, have advocated no changes in emissions targets for the 2013 regulations and previously suggested a number of reasons why they feel the 2013 regulations improvements should be watered down still further. I can appreciate some of their reasoning behind certain arguments, whilst at the same time disagreeing with them on many of the issues raised.

Some have argued that there is a lack of industry experience in building new homes to 2010 standards.

Before the last regulations change, many house builders flocked to lodge projects under the 2006 regulations to avoid having to comply with 2010 regulations, taking advantage of transitional arrangements to ‘bank’ sites to earlier requirements. If that loophole hadn’t been there, considerably more dwellings would have been built to 2010 improved standards. I’ve touched on this in a separate post.  People have been building to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 energy and CO2 emission targets for several years now since it was first introduced five years ago (and before that to improved levels for EcoHomes.

There is experience in the market of achieving higher standards.

Another argument is that targets should be relaxed as the definition of Zero Carbon was relaxed in 2011. The original definition of Zero Carbon was emissions down to not just zero, but below zero to include accounting for cooking and appliance usage.  It also required ‘on-site’ methods to achieve.  The ‘relaxed’ zero carbon target allows for ‘Allowable Solutions’ to make up the actual shortfall from proposed carbon compliance level to zero carbon.  So the percentage improvements previously considered as step changes are still very much valid.

There have been suggestions that the additional cost of achieving the ‘half way’ point consultation proposal (26% improvement over 2010) estimated at around £3K per dwelling is liable to have an undue impact on house purchases. The additional cost to a purchaser (briefly borne by the builder) would pay itself back in savings in fuel bills (due to a well insulated fabric) for the house purchaser in fairly short order; Let alone the lower carbon emissions for building better dwellings. Equally the cost of some technologies has dropped considerably over the last few years. There is a continuing demand for new houses, it’s getting the finance to purchase them (and I assume to build them) that appears to be causing the problems – not planning issues, not regulatory ‘roadblocks’.

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About

Jon Ducker is a qualified energy assessor working for Kingspan Insulation Ltd. He has an extensive knowledge of energy efficiency, renewable energy systems and sustainability in buildings with an expert knowledge of the relevant sections of buildings regulations and standards and their interactions with SAP. He provides authoritative advice regarding energy assessments for a wide range of public and private sector clients.

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