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admin 01.07.2015

Improving standards have led to reduced energy costs, the ‘Average UK Home’ has an energy bill of ?1,400 per year, but a new home built today using 2013 standards would only have a bill of ?900.
Given Transition Bath’s objective is to make the city more sustainable, we think it important that both the government and our council continue to improve standards which reduce CO2 emissions and energy bills.
On Wednesday 4th June 2014 the ‘Infrastructure Bill’ was announced in Parliament as part of the Queens’s Speech. Building Regulations: Since 2006 the government has gradually been tightening the part of Building Regulations ‘Part L’ which deals with the energy efficiency of new homes. Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH): In parallel with Building Regulations, a new standard called ‘Code for Sustainable Homes’ was developed to promote more sustainable standards. Zero Carbon Standards and Allowable Solutions: Between 2012 and 2014, the government via an NGO called Zero Carbon Hub started examining cost effective ways of meeting the proposed 2016 Zero Carbon standard. Infrastructure Bill 2015: The regulatory framework for ‘Zero Carbon Homes’ was announced in the Queen’s Speech in June under the Infrastructure Bill, which is due to be enacted just before the next general election in May 2015.
The first graph illustrates the potential annual costs of an occupant renting a home to the given standard i.e. Investing in building fabric without investing in renewables (solar PV) provides diminishing returns because the hot water and electricity consumption are not reduced by investing solely in better fabric. If we assume that the amendment to the Deregulation Bill fails and that the new 2016 ‘Zero Carbon Standard’ doesn’t come into effect then the impact on the 12,700 homes to be built in Bath over the next 15 years will be an increase of 27,000 tonnes of carbon per year or about 10 large wind turbines. We feel that regulation, and in particular housing energy efficiency regulation is an important tool to force builders to build to higher standards.
All the figures presented in this article were independently derived by Transition Bath using SAP models for a 3 bed semi-detached home of 92m2.
This latest addition to Ashbourne Town is a fine example of well thought out town planning using the highest standards of design and modern construction techniques.

This is a statement which 98% of the residents of Bath agreed with in our housing survey of April 2014. B&NES council have been trying to persuade builders, at an additional capital cost of about ?8,000 to build homes to Code for Sustainable Homes level 5 (CfSH 5), this reduces bills significantly to about ?100 per year, but unfortunately proposed changes in government regulation might stop them doing this.
There is also the risk that the 2016 proposals will get significantly watered down by the time the Infrastructure Bill is enacted.
It is something we will continue to push for, because if it is left completely under the influence of large builders our homes would not be getting more efficient, energy bills would be increasing as a result of energy prices and CO2 emissions would continue to rise.
Many local authorities used this as a basis for requiring builders to build homes above that required by minimum building regulations. This exercise was largely one of exploring how to most cost-efficiently meet the proposed standard.
The details are a little vague at the moment but the Zero Carbon Standard appears to be defined as ‘energy efficiency to CfSH 4 standards plus Allowable Solutions carbon offsets to CfSH 5 standard’. These higher standards not only reduce carbon emissions but reduce householders’ energy bills and fuel poverty.
The calculations don’t take into account the performance gap between the theoretical SAP model and actual consumption. All homes have an ‘A’ rating Energy Certificate incorporating air to water heat pumps, a high degree of insulation, low energy lighting and water saving sanitary ware as standard, substantially reducing all energy bills. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit twords Swords, take the next left heading for Ashbourne.
Although the energy efficiency of new homes has been gradually improving over the last few years, it is often difficult to understand the impact of these improvements, particularly as government impact analysis of the regulatory changes tend to ignore the benefits to consumers. Since this is something Transition Bath believes is an important component of our objective of reducing carbon emissions we thought it might be useful to look the potential impact of this bill.

The standard has a number of levels including level  4 (just above current building regulations), 5 (zero carbon apart from unregulated electricity) and level 6 (fully zero carbon). One of the ‘innovations’ of this process was ‘Allowable Solutions’– which is a mechanism which will allow builders to offset the carbon they can’t economically offset on site, for example where there isn’t enough roof space for solar panels. Although, in principle reducing regulation can be a good thing, it often leads to market failures, a good example is the lack of ‘space standard’ regulations in the UK, which has led to the smallest new build houses in Europe. Given the government’s proposed 2016 Zero Carbon housing was outlined in this month’s (June 2014) Queens Speech, and that the Planning Inspector is ruling on the Sustainable Construction component of B&NES Council’s Core Strategy this month, we thought it would be an apt time to look at the impact of both past and future standards on energy bills and CO2 emissions. In 2011 the government relaxed the definition of ‘Zero Carbon’ in homes as part of the March 2011 budget, weakening it by removing the need for it to be carbon neutral for ‘unregulated electricity’. The announcement is a little confusing as the government has announced its intention to abolish the Code for Sustainable Homes, but is then defining the new standard in terms of the Code for Sustainable Homes? Unregulated electricity is the electricity consumption in a home associated with items not sold as part of the home – for example televisions but not lighting which is ‘regulated electricity’.
In 2013 the coalition government announced as part of the Deregulation Bill that it was intending to scrap the Code for Sustainable Homes and remove councils’ ability to specify higher standards.
Its justification was that this would reduce red tape and allow more homes to be built, something Transition Bath would dispute. However,  following a consultation on Allowable Solutions (which is still in progress, as of June 2014) it looks as though the proposal will be significantly watered down.

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