Government’s allowable solutions proposals may not be compatible with EU directive, warns CIBSE

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Fears have emerged that the government’s proposed plans to allow housebuilders to invest in alternative energy-saving measures to meet their zero-carbon homes requirements from 2016 may conflict with European legislation.

Last week the consultation closed on the government’s plans for implementing allowable solutions, which will enable housebuilders to meet their zero-carbon targets by investing in alternative energy-saving measures in 2016.

The government intends to let firms invest in further energy efficiency projects or energy generating projects away from their sites.

Sticking solar-PV on the roof is not always the most effective way of making a building zero carbon

But in its response to the consultation, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) said this may conflict with the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which will require all new buildings to be “nearly zero energy” from 2021.

It states energy needs of homes should be met “to a very significant extent” by renewable energy “onsite or nearby”.

In its response to the consultation, seen by Building, CIBSE said: “It would be unfortunate, to say the very least, for the UK to set off on a path of allowable solutions in 2016, only to be hauled back in 2020-21 because the policy was deemed not to be compatible with EU law at that point.”

Hywel Davies, technical director at CIBSE, said a strict interpretation of the EU directive could result in housebuilders being forced to install a lot of expensive renewable energy generation on the homes they build.

He said avoiding this problem was “why allowable solutions were thought up in the first place”.

“Making the fabric good and then sticking solar-PV on the roof is not always the most effective way of making a building zero carbon,” he said.