Sustainable Homes Code as proposed could hold back 'real' green building in UK!
The chance for achieving 'real' sustainable homes in the UK could be seriously set back if the Government introduces the proposed weak sustainable housing code that is currently out for consultation. The proposed new code proports to build upon the existing Building Research Establishment's Ecohomes standards but in fact offers little more than a re-badging of the work and it would still remain a non-mandatory scheme.
Only a few days ago, 'File on Four' on BBC Radio Four accused the ODPM and the Treasury of actually 'holding back' the Government from meeting its climate change mitigation targets. The programme also accused the ODPM of withdrawing an important aspect of the forthcoming building regulations update that "would have imposed energy efficiency on anyone adding an extension or loft conversion to their existing home".
Brian Scannell, of National Energy Services, a company which specialises in home energy efficiency, said the measure would probably set back energy saving by another five years. "It means that in properties where extensions are being made the odds are that their total emissions will increase and they will be taking us in the wrong direction, given an overall objective of reducing CO2 emissions."
This leads me to beg two questions. "Are these important issues in the hands of the right Government department?" and "is the ODPM being over-influenced by strong industry lobbying and lacking better public accountability?
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EST also say let's have better!
Figures released recently by the Energy Saving Trust reveal the Government could help save over 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new homes in England by 2010 if it set additional energy standards under its Code for Sustainable Homes.
Although the Code, now out for consultation until March 2006, includes energy efficiency as one of six components to rate the overall sustainability of a property, the minimum standard required is still only equal to the building regulations which are due to come into force at the same time as the voluntary Code in April 2006.
Now, the Energy Saving Trust is calling on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) to use the Energy Saving Trust's own energy efficiency standards for new housing developed under its long established best practice programme as the minimum requirement for energy efficiency within the Code's five star rating system.
The Government has made a commitment that all publicly-funded homes will comply with the Code from April 2006 which could save over 45,000 tonnes of
CO2 by 2010 if the Energy Saving Trust's standards were used as the minimum requirement.
Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: "Although the Code offers Government endorsement for more sustainable homes in the UK, there is no definition of specific energy performance standards and there is scope to 'trade off on some components at the expense of others.
"Our key concern though is that by setting the minimum energy efficiency standard at a level which will be required by law anyway, an opportunity is being missed for the Code to have real impact on the UK's CO2 emissions. If all new homes planned in England over the next five years were to comply with the Code, using Energy Saving Trust standards as a minimum, over 300,000 tonnes of CO2 and over £30 million in fuel bills could be saved."
For further details on the Energy Saving Trust's energy efficiency standards; www.est.org.uk/housingbuildings, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0870 120
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