Reducing C02 emissions to create zero carbon homes remains part of the Government’s UK-wide strategy for tackling climate change and improving construction standards. It seems that change is finally on the horizon with the tightening of performance requirement expected as part of the next implementation of Parts L, F, and J of the Building Regulations set for 2016 in relation to domestic properties and 2019 for non-residential buildings.
So where has confusion around the fulfilment of this pledge come from? Firstly, the actual definition of what constitutes ‘zero carbon’ has never been agreed. In addition, any change to build practice is a very complicated matter; from meeting minimum Fabric Energy Efficiency Standards (FEES) to the correct specification of renewable technologies.
To complicate matters further, additional options regarding off-site improvements have been introduced. A national framework has recently been announced that will extend the obligation to the wider construction site, allowing carbon abatement action to be taken off-site by the house builder or their chosen third party. Alternatively, they can pay into a fund that will invest in carbon abatement projects.
Despite the good news that zero carbon homes are still firmly on the agenda, many questions still remain. For instance, will long-term maintenance and repairs be regulated and if so, how? Plus, there are concerns over what will happen with the potential ‘C02 performance gap’ where a new build fails to deliver the anticipated reduction levels. Also, clarity is still needed on the ‘allowable’ off-site solutions.
For further detail on zero carbon homes and the plans to implement the scheme through Part L, F, and J of the 2016 Building Regulations, visit http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Zero_carbon_homes