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Proposed new building regulations not ambitious enough in reducing CO2 emissions!

Towards the end of 2019 the Government consulted on Changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations. This consultation set out the Government plans for the Future Homes Standard to be introduced by 2025.  It is the first stage of a two-part consultation about proposed changes to the Building Regulations. Sounds pretty boring stuff doesn’t it? However in reality It one of the key areas which need to be dealt with in order to tackle climate change.

The Friends of the South Downs have responded to the consultation which ended in February 2020 asking the Government to ramp up their efforts to meet their own climate change ambitions by re-writing the proposed standards to introduce zero carbon homes by 2025.     CLICK HERE  to is see our response to the consultation.

Professional organisations are also also asking for major improvements in meeting climate change targets, for instance the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) say: “The CIBSE very much agree with the stated overall ambition described in the Consultation Document, but have strong concerns that the proposals set out are not sufficiently ambitious to deliver significant progress towards meeting the objectives of reducing carbon emissions, annual energy consumption and peak demand, and ensuring affordability to consumers. The proposals for Part L 2020 do not represent the required “meaningful and achievable step” towards zero carbon, and the timeline and content of the Future Homes Standard is not ambitious enough, nor does it begin to address real in-use energy performance and carbon emissions”.

 

Click this image to read the the Government’s own Committee on Climate Change in report to Parliament in 2019

 

The need for a more ambitious stance on tackling climate change is desparatly needed. For instance the Government’s own Committee on Climate Change in their report to Parliament in 2019 confirmed that buildings account for 17% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK (see page 85).

Our Society’s report not only asks for zero carbon homes standards by 2025 but we also say:

  • In the context of a Climate Emergency, the proposed options for 2025 are not nearly ambitious enough and could actually result in a retrograde step.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (Oct18) makes it clear that it is now urgent that we reduce carbon emissions, stating that we have less than 12 years to stop climate change. Even the introduction of the proposed 31% uplift (option 2) does not go nearly far enough to reduce energy demand in buildings if we are to achieve Net Zero by 2050 or earlier.
  • We must retain the powers of local authorities to set higher requirements than national standards where practical and demonstrably viable, particularly those councils that have declared a ‘Climate Emergency’.  Where local conditions allow, we believe that Local Authorities and National Parks should be able to set higher standards.  As with all development, any Local Plan policy is subject to viability tests and thus, allowing LAs to set higher standards does not restrict development.

We understand the results of the consultation will be announced later in 2020.

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What have Building Regulations got to do with climate change?

The average household in the UK emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2 every year from heating their home. The Government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has identified the need to reduce emissions from the UK’s buildings – which made up 19% of the UK’s overall total emissions (2017 data). The government has already declared that we will have to move away gas central heating in new homes constructed after 2025. However that’s not the whole story. The way a house is constructed is very important when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases. The UK was very close to achieving the design of new homes to a ‘net zero carbon’ output in 2016 but the Government backed away withdrawing the regulations. However, since then new evidence has persuaded Parliament to legally commit to the UK achieving ‘carbon net zero’ by 2050. To achieve net zero action will be needed on many fronts including how houses are built.

In the latter part of 2019 the Government consulted on new standards for building regulations (to come into operation from 2025). Our Society took a look at these proposed regulations and found they were only aimed at making a 31% improvement! We decided to make a robust submission to the government asking them to go over ‘carbon net zero by 2025, in just under 5 years. A bold request you might ask?  Our Policy Officer Vic Ient studied reports from a number of organisations including the Passivhaus Trust  and found that the technology and design capabilities are already available to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions. Click below to see our report and submission:

SDS Comments on The Future Homes Standard 2019 Consultation dated 07-02-20