Urgent action demanded to improve SAP for calculating energy use of new homes

The government’s tool for calculating the energy performance of new dwellings cannot adequately meet the challenges of delivering low-energy and zero-carbon houses, concludes a new report.

A six-month study undertaken by the Zero Carbon Hub, due to be published next week, concludes that the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) now used to calculate the energy performance of new dwellings and demonstrate compliance with Building Regulations is not adequate in its current form.

Compliance tools are used to assess a design to see if it meets the energy criteria set out in regulations and often steers designers and the products and systems they specify. However, should the compliance regime result in a poor reflection of reality then there is a risk that carbon emissions and energy use will be higher than expected.

The report suggests that urgent action is required to ensure that a compliance tool fit for purpose is developed to meet the government’s target for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016.

It proposes that the development of a tool could be financed by government, or through the private sector with government maintaining ownership of the policy.