This may be the only review of 2018 you’ll find online that doesn’t mention the B word!
You’d be forgiven for thinking Westminster has been a one-trick pony this year, but there have been several key announcements that feature in Energist’s world:
Starting off in March, we had a fresh set of BREEAM Guidance for non-residential new construction projects. The changes included a new ‘verification’ stage to measure energy and water use during the building’s first few years of occupancy. The new BREEAM also offers extra credits for air quality, cycling facilities and footpaths.
BRE came under fire for delaying the release of the ecology section – it followed a couple of months after the official release.
A new piece of legislation – MEES – came into force in April. Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) make it an offence for a building owner or landlord to sell or rent a property that falls within the two lowest bands of the EPC rating (F & G). These buildings are classed as the most expensive to heat and are the focus of a Government drive to tackle fuel poverty.
Owners must take responsibility for upgrading these buildings before a sale or rental agreement goes ahead.
In May, Dame Judith Hackitt released her scathing review of Building Regulations. She was commissioned to write this following the Grenfell tragedy.
Her conclusions were that current regulations are not fit for purpose, and that there is a culture of passing the buck in the industry. She presented more than fifty recommendations to the Government, mostly focusing on 10-storey-plus buildings.
The Government has already actioned some of her recommendations by banning certain materials from high-rises. Some changes to Building Regulations have already been confirmed, with rumours that sweeping changes are being considered in the coming years.
Clean Air Strategy
Also announced in May was the Government’s long awaited Clean Air Strategy, albeit in draft form. This long-term document focuses on reducing air pollution from all walks of life over the coming decades.
In construction, the Strategy targets wood burners in smoke fee zones, phasing out coal and oil heating, and removing grants for biomass heating. The full Strategy is expected in 2019.
The Letwin Review
In June, Sir Oliver Letwin released his report into the struggles faced by the construction industry as we try to build 250,000 homes a year. He points to issues with recruiting skilled workers, sourcing materials, initial site funding and the planning process.
BRE released a draft version of SAP 10 in August – this will be the next methodology for new dwellings across the UK. They had previously released SAP 2016 in preparation for a change in Building Regulations which never happened, so that version has been scrapped.
SAP 10 is expected to be far less kind on district heating networks and combined heat and power units, and more favourable towards electric fed heating systems, especially heat pumps.
The new calculator won’t be officially adopted until a change in Building Regulations, however the Greater London Authority is asking developers of larger schemes to adopt the new emission factors from the start of the year.
Part G in Wales
In November, water efficiency targets for new dwellings in Wales were made stricter. The lower design target of 110 litres per person per day brings the country in line with many English cities and drought prone areas. The rest of England still targets 125 litres.
So 2018 has brought quite a variety of regulation changes to the industry, and has hinted to some much bigger changes in the years to come.
Look out for our next blog, where we try to predict 2019 changes. You are warned, The B word is very likely to feature!