Roadblocks to 2013 improvements and achieving Zero Carbon (Part 4)

There have been suggestions that there is not enough understanding of the FEES (Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard) as a target for it to be included in the 2013 regulations change.

The FEES targets have been proposed to be brought in to ensure that Fabric and minimising heating demand is more of a consideration, alongside the overall carbon emissions TER/DER calculations. FEES has already been in as a metric since SAP 2009 was introduced, just not with a target for reg’s approval.  There is plenty of experience and modelling available as to what dwellings built to the 2010 regulations can achieve. There is a target under ENE2 of Code for Sustainable homes, giving credits for achieved FEE levels, so again experience is available. The Welsh consultation decided against bringing this in for the next regulations change, but did propose much tighter fabric requirements to compensate, achieving an overall similar level.

There are concerns about ventilation of well insulated, air tight dwellings, citing insufficient experience of low air tightness dwellings using such measures as Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery. Also issues suggested regarding summer overheating and of ensuring that renewable and innovative technologies are adequately maintained by dwelling occupiers once installed. I can appreciate some of these concerns, however only by actually starting to use these more, increasing consumer familiarity and gaining more experience, will prices come down and understanding increase. Dwellings have been built for some time now using MVHR and innovative and renewable technologies ( with high performance fabric specifications) and there is no reason why these can’t become more mainstream.

Priority should be a good fabric, air tight building with a well performing ventilation strategy and renewable technologies where appropriate to achieve the levels we need to be achieving.

Yes, there are concerns about maintenance of technologies once the dwelling is occupied and these will need addressing through better education of home buyers, simplicity of systems to maintain and to advise owners that maintenance is needed. Certainly an issue requiring more thought, but not insurmountable. These systems have been in use for some time by some developers and for high performing dwellings – not to mention elsewhere in Europe.

Rather than throwing up reasons not to change, we should be focusing on resolving the issues that need to be tackled to achieve the 2016 objectives. If anything, I believe that the 2013 consultation proposals didn’t go far enough. We should be pushing forward now to the Carbon Compliance levels proposed for 2016, with 2016 changes left to focus on tackling the still fairly large jump from the proposed carbon compliance level (which is roughly an aggregate 52% improvement over 2010 levels), through to the zero carbon target that 2016 is supposed to be.

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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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