The news of the “postponement” of the Zero Carbon policy came as no surprise to most people who were working in the development of the legislation required to meet the 2016 deadline. “Postponement” is what Amber Rudd (Amber was appointed Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on 11 May 2015) said when challenged - that the decision has actually just been to "postpone" the policy, rather than scrap it altogether. Now, of course, no timescale was set against this statement so we can make our own judgment on the likely timescale. The reason those 'close to Government' were not surprised by the “postponement” was because there had been so many comments from Treasury, in particular George Osborne, that we should not go ahead of Europe (gold plating was mentioned), as this would disadvantage the UK economy.
Listen to Amber Rudd here: https://soundcloud.com/edie-net/decc-priorities-2015-zero-carbon-homes-1
So what is Europe planning? They are planning to ensure that we meet the European Energy Performance Building Directive legislation which says:
DCLG have indicated that they are now preparing to undertake the 'Cost Optimal' exercise (that must be completed every 5 years) in 2017 to ensure that our building regulations are able to meet this requirement. The question to be addressed is: will new legislation be required and if so, when will it come into force?
Let us compare where Zero Carbon was taking us and where Part L 2013 is in terms of kWh/m2/yr in the diagramme below... clearly very different! However, this is not important, what is important is the COST.
Many member states have yet to declare their hand in all this - see the table below:
What is interesting is the huge variety of kWh/m2/yr. How will Brussels sort this conundrum out?
Finally, back to time scales. When does this European legislation come into force? What we do know is this:
Jan 2019 on: new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities are NZEBs
Jan 2021 on: ALL new buildings are NZEB
Has much changed? Clearly new homes will now have 8 years, potentially, before any new regulations are required. This will give plenty of time to overcome the key risks facing the industry now, which are Overheating (20% of homes are suffering overheating) and the Performance Gap (this is the gap between the design performance and actual performance of the building once the construction has been completed).
Meeting these challenges AND increasing the output of the industry to meet 200,000 homes a year means a busy period ahead. Hopefully, the quality of construction can be maintained - having worked so hard to improve it over the recession a backwards step would be a great shame.
ZERO CARBON HUB
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We at LSx want to get the dialogue about Zero Carbon Homes back up the agenda and have created this petition as part of our COP21 campaign #Pledge4LDN campaign. Follow @LSx_news to get involved in our twitter campaign and sign the petition to add your support!