Making Best Use of Energy Statements

Background

Many Local Authorities require Energy Statements as part of a planning application and have specific policies relating to sustainability, energy efficiency or Carbon.

Typical requirements are that the developer should present a statement outlining how

  • they intend to achieve a percentage of renewable energy or
  • how a scheme is likely to meet current Building Regulations.

These energy requirements may also state that proposals should maximise energy efficiency and conservation through:

  • orientation,
  • layout and design of buildings,
  • use of natural light and solar gain, and
  • taking full advantage of opportunities to use renewable or alternative energy sources.

Some policies  may also require proposals to demonstrate how trees and vegetation have been used to achieve visual acoustic, energy saving, wildlife and other environmental benefits.

Increasingly Local Authorities are encouraging developers to link energy statements up front with Building Regulations Part L and to adopt a Fabric First approach in order to lower energy demand above and beyond the requirements of current Regulations before deciding on the most appropriate renewable energy technology.

Design Issues

This up front approach although laudable is not without its issues for the developer.

The scheme design may be at a preliminary stage and detailed specification associated with fabric, glazing heating and ventilation etc. may not yet have been considered. Indeed the scheme as proposed may not ever be built and as a result the ‘developer’ may see the energy statement as an unnecessary planning ‘tick box’ exercise. On occasions the architect/designer involved during the planning process may not be retained for the build out when it does occur.

The resulting Energy Statement included with the application may therefore be based upon notional, target or generic specifications and apart from comprising the general size of the development may not bear much relevance to the finalised scheme. Alternatively in the absence of detailed specification the Energy Consultant may be left to propose a possible design solution that demonstrates compliance with Part L

Things to Consider:

In our view an Energy Statement is the ideal point at which to review all sustainability options including risks and opportunities and therefore it could and should provide far more than just a validation tick box.

Given that achieving compliance with Part L is not always as straight forward as it used to be. Many a developer has discovered to their cost that their scheme does not comply with Part L just at the point when the roof is about to be built.

When requesting an Energy Statement it is recommended that the developer should consider the following:

  • Is the Statement considered simply a validation exercise to get through planning.
  • Will the scheme proposal referenced in the Statement as it stands ever be built?
  • Is it considered important that the scheme provides a viable, sustainable, comfortable solution for future occupants?
  • If the scheme referenced in the energy statement was to be built as it is proposed would it actually meet Part L?
  • Are there any energy features referenced in the Statement that would need to be considered early on in order to provide any benefit.
  • Are there specific BREEAM/HQM requirements in place for the scheme that need to be considered as early as possible.

We recommend a chat with our sustainability team at EES in advance to ensure that  the Energy Statement requested provides the specific requirement of the Planning Authority and other concerned parties.

 

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