Consultation on the government’s proposed changes to building regulations, as part of the journey to a net zero economy in 2050, has recently closed. A number of architectural and consultancy bodies including RIBA , CIBSE and the Passivhaus Trust have been critical of the suggested changes to Part L, which deals with energy efficiency. What are these objections?
o Firstly, the proposals focus on the carbon emissions during occupancy. As carbon usage can be cut by moving to more efficient heating systems, such as air-source heat pumps and that electricity generation carbon emissions will continue to fall as we move to renewable sources, this means that less attention is being paid to building a well-insulated house, which can, paradoxically mean that a house built next year could be less efficient that under the current 2013 regulations.
See full explanation prepared by the London Energy Transformation Initiative: https://b80d7a04-1c28-45e2-b904-e0715cface93.filesusr.com/ugd/252d09_47446f98183f4cbe9ca238772db24578.pdf
o Secondly, if the government is serious about moving to zero carbon by 2050, urgent action is needed now. This is particularly important in the housing sector for 2 reasons; 1) only a small proportion of the UK’s housing stock is built every year so it is important to reach the higher standards sooner rather than later. There are increased costs in building houses that are energy efficient but it costs 5 times as much to retrofit an existing building as it does to build at a higher standard initially; 2) the construction trades are slow to adapt to change and will ask for more time. There are examples of volume developers exploiting loopholes in existing regulations by building to standards that applied when they broke ground, which on large sites can be many years before the last houses are completed
o Finally, the proposed regulations take away the powers that local authorities have to require construction to a higher standard than the minimum national standards. This levelling-down sits oddly with the philosophy of localism that is needed to bring communities together.
HCLT is committed to building energy efficient houses to be truly affordable to people who live and work in Hereford. We believe in building to the highest standards to ensure all our future occupants can live without the fear of fuel poverty.