This year there are more government consultations on greening the built environment than ever before
For a start, there are the consultations on the traditional Building Regulations – consultations on Parts L and F were imminent as we went to press. These have been joined by higher, policy-level consultations as the government realises that simply making the industry build new zero-carbon homes isn’t going make much of a dent in its aspiration to cut carbon emissions by 80% by the middle of the century.
The consultation on the definition of zero carbon reveals a shift in emphasis, as the government realises it would be inefficient and prohibitively expensive to make every new home generate all its own power. This consultation accepts that it is better to make homes as well insulated and airtight as possible than generate power off site or get housebuilders to make improvements to the existing stock to offset carbon emissions from new homes.
Existing stock is also finally getting some much-needed policy attention. The Heat and Energy Saving Strategy recognises the importance of improving all the millions of buildings already standing. However, if dedicated people like the plucky couple in our feature on page 10 struggle to get help in greening their own home, it’s going to be almost impossible for the average householder who isn’t as committed as our pair.
District heating is another technology coming to the fore. This is much more cost-effective than individual home heating and hot water solutions, as our feature on page 18 shows, and could also really help cut carbon emissions from the existing stock. The trouble is, of course, that all these broad policy initiatives need to be matched by equivalent action. The big question is: has the government got the money and the will to turn the proposals in all these consultations into decisive action?
Thomas Lane, assistant editor (technical), Building
The Regs Files 2009
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