News

UK Homes – The Current Verdict

Last week the UK Governments Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released a report condemning the current quality and performance of UK homes in relation to the countries targets in reducing co2 emissions.

The new report titled ‘UK Housing: Fit for future?’ can be found here.

The main arguments:

  • To meet legally required emission targets will demand elimination of all GHGs from UK buildings.
  • Reductions in domestic emissions have stalled.
  • Energy use in homes has increased 14% between 2016 and 2017.
  • Retrofit, refurbishment and adaptation to domestic and commercial building stock is behind in relation to intended policy targets.
  • Cost-effective measures for retrofit are not being rolled out at the required level.
  • We have the technology and knowledge for low carbon and resilient homes but current policy and standards do not instigate change at the scale and pace needed.
  • UK building standards are inadequate (See our previous article on Part L here) and inadequately enforced.

Why?

  • Cost-effective measures for retrofit are not being rolled out at the required level.
  • We have the technology and knowledge for low carbon and resilient homes but current policy and standards do not instigate change at the scale and pace needed.
  • UK building standards are inadequate (See our previous article on Part L here) and inadequately enforced.

Actions

The CCC recommended several strategies for the government to act on. The summaries are given below:

  1. Performance and Compliance: Close the ‘performance gap’.
  2. Skills Gap: The inconsistent approach of UK policy has created a skills gap in housing design and construction. A nationwide training programme is needed.
  3. Retrofitting Existing Homes: Make use of low carbon sources of heating such as heat pumps and uptake energy efficiency measures. Repairs to existing homes should reduce indoor moisture, improve air quality and water efficiency and incorporate flood protection.
  4. Building New Homes: Design new homes to be climate resilient, energy and water efficient and low -carbon.
  5. Finance and Funding: Urgent funding gaps need to be addressed.

An interesting theme throughout the detailed recommendations is to remove future and current connections to the gas grid and heat homes through low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps or heat networks. See the full 36 recommendations here.

The CCC clearly want to make bold and positive steps towards decarbonising our housing stock. It will be interesting to see whether the government will adopt and act on any of the recommendations outlined in this new report. Let’s hope they make time for positive actions on the sustainability of the UK’s housing stock amidst the B-word!

Regardless on what the government decides to act on, the UK cannot meet climate and emission-reduction objectives without major enhancement in the energy performance of UK housing and near complete decarbonisation of the housing stock.

 

Here’s How Mainer Can Help

Mainer Associates deliver sustainability services in the domestic construction sector. These include Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) and Part L, Planning and Sustainability Statements, and Renewable Energy Assessments.

Standard Assessment Procedures and Part L

SAP is an energy assessment methodology used to assess and compare the energy performance of housing developments. It is the recommended method of energy assessment from the UK government for domestic dwellings to meet Part L building regulations.

Whenever a residential property is re-let or sold, it must have an environmental performance certificate (EPC). The retrofit recommendations in the report by the Committee on Climate Change will intend to improve EPC ratings. Mainer Associates have a greatly experienced team of SAP assessors who engage with project teams to find cost effective solutions with the best sustainability outcomes, to meet Local Planning Authority requirements.

Planning and Sustainability Statements

Mainer Associates have experience in undertaking a variety of planning strategies and statements to accompany planning submissions. We can review planning policy and establish where and how residential developments need to meet sustainability regulations to assist your application in achieving planning permission.

We also have energy specialists and low carbon consultants to establish energy strategies and statements. From high-level benchmarking calculations to full dynamic simulation modelling we identify potential low carbon strategies and quantify emission savings. Using DSM and SAP provides clients with extremely detailed calculations that they take forward into later design and construction phases.

Renewable and Low carbon Energy Consultancy

We have a team of renewable and low carbon energy consultants who specialise in low carbon energy solutions, establishing bespoke installations for individual dwellings and larger housing developments.

Mainer Associates assist in developing business cases and project planning for low-carbon installs and have great colleagues in the industry to stay at the forefront in best practice and knowledge on renewables.

To support our dynamic simulation modelling we have specialist software for PV projects, enabling us to model PV arrays in an unrivalled amount of detail, providing clients with robust evidence and arguments on the feasibility of installation.

Some Take-Home Facts

  • Housing targets include 1.5 million homes by 2022.
  • Heating and hot water account for 25% of the UK’s total energy use and 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 4% of GHGs result from electricity used in homes.
  • Direct emissions from homes were 64 million tonnes CO2 in 2017.
  • The CCC’s cost effective pathway for meeting carbon budgets would put the UK on track to a 24% reduction on 1990 levels by 2030.
  • Only 18,000 heat pump units were sold in 2016.
  • EPC data indicates that D is the most common EPC rating.
  • 4.7million homes in England failed to meet the Decent Home Standard in 2016.