Energy Efficiency: Building towards Net Zero
The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has recently published a report on Energy Efficiency. Chapter 6 of the report deals specifically with new build properties.
The report states that “When already faced with the challenge of upgrading the energy performance of the entire housing stock, it is nonsensical to be continuously making the problem worse by allowing new homes to be built that will also need to be retrofitted. “
The report notes that the prohibitive cost of retrofitting means that in all likelihood these necessary improvement to meet current standards will never occur and dwelling’s will remain inefficient for another generation.
The report also identified that “despite receiving billions in taxpayer funds” housebuilders were still inevitably making “profit margins and shareholder returns the overriding priority”; noting that upgrading energy efficiency standards will not be a priority for house builders until there is a commercial case to do so and a level playing field for all developers.
Building Regulation Performance Gap
The report identified a performance gap between design stage compliance with Building Regulations and actual ‘As Built’ performance. Currently there is no requirement (apart from air testing) for developers to demonstrate that a dwelling actually performs as designed. According to the report the performance gap on fabric heat loss alone has been found to in some cases be more than double the design value.
The report committee heard that there are actually potentially larger carbon savings in closing the performance gap than in making standards more onerous.
The report furthermore noted that as homes move away from gas-fired boiler and are built with low carbon heat (e.g. Air Source Heat Pumps), if the fabric efficiency of the home under-performs, the impact on consumer bills will be greater than it is now. The cost per unit of energy through low carbon heating technologies is expected to be higher than gas.
Energy Evaluation Services Comment
EES agrees with the findings of the report and looks forward to early measures been taken to fix the gap between ‘design’ and ‘as built’. EES agrees that House-Builder should supply the information used in SAP calculations to the purchaser so that some form checks could be carried out if performance was questioned. It would also provide an incentive to developers to meet the standards they have published.
The recommendation of incentivising post completion testing by house-builders is also considered an essential step forward in order to improve the energy efficiency of dwellings and reduce ‘the gap’.