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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Zero carbon aspirations - TAI 2017 development seminar preview

28/03/2017


Colin King, associate director at BRE, looks at the challenges in developing to meet building regulations, and zero carbon aspirations - Colin will be speaking at the TAI 2017 development seminar

TAI 2017Meeting the challenges of the Governments zero carbon agenda should not be underestimated for a number of reasons, technical, financial and practical.

The technical challenges and practicalities of meeting the standard often revolves around the approach often used, multiple technologies, a lack of a true integrated approach to design, and operation, and the complexities of the occupiers truly understanding how to operate their new homes. Coupled with the potential if built on mass to putting excess strain on an already struggling distribution network, if not delivered with sufficient storage capacity for generated energy.

Research undertaken by the BRE, and others in particular, fourwalls indicates that the buildings in operation do not deliver anywhere near their design aspirations, and give rise to the much-quoted performance gap. This performance gap is often quoted in terms of energy, but more importantly the indoor air quality suffers as well, which for the inhabitants has potentially a more direct impact on their health.

The financial challenges of meeting the zero-carbon target has been argued for many years, there is currently no real commercial incentive for the house builder market to embrace the additional costs to deliver these higher standards, the benefits lay with the end user, and do not offer a return on investment. The costs of setting high standards makes government reluctant to require this performance, on an industry already struggling to meet demand, but setting high standards is not the only reason for a lack of delivery.

The practical challenges are complex and many fold, including the planning process (with optimal solar layout not always meeting the Planners views on vernacular and place, and the supply chain being too immature in its development to provide the right equipment at the right price and to the right quality.

Current projects led by the BRE with others such as “LENDERS”, may offer real hope to creating a mechanism to demonstrate a value and worth to low carbon buildings, it looks to provide evidence and structure to potential preferential mortgages for buildings that can demonstrate their low carbon credentials. The LENDERS project is demonstrating that more accurate fuel cost estimates can be used in mortgage lending decisions that results in lower energy homes being responsibly allowed larger mortgages. The LENDERS project looks to improve the accuracy of the estimated fuel costs that mortgage companies use when calculating the monthly loan repayments that a homeowner can afford to repay. This “Affordability Calculation” currently uses Office of National Statistics average fuel bill data, in some cases modified by other factors, to predict a homeowners fuel costs. The LENDERS idea is that this forecast can be made more accurate by using data from Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) alongside other information the mortgage company would have access to. More information is available at www.epcmortgage.org.uk

Given all this, the option to do nothing is not viable in terms of ensuring the carbon burden on the built environment is not increased, complex and challenging times lay ahead for all in the industry.

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Hear from Colin in person at the TAI 2017 development seminar


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