The dust has now settled following Tuesday’s announcement from the DCLG that Part L is going to be delayed until 2014.
The press release also confirmed that the emission reduction (for England) would be just 6% for domestic, and 9% commercial. The Welsh Assembly previously confirmed an 8% reduction over current targets.
Also, proposals to introduce a universal building specification, known as the Publicly Available System, and plans to introduce consequential improvements for extensions, were both scrapped.
Divided the industry
The news seems to have divided the construction industry… some are you happy that the Government has cut back the required emission reduction, as this has meant the cost of house-building will be less than expected.
Others have taken the ‘too little, too late’ stance, and are now questioning how Westminster can stand by the 2016 goal for zero carbon homes in the UK.
Here are some of the first comments which have appeared online in the last two days:
The Renewable Energy Association has gone on record saying they are disappointed by the cut in reduction, with REA Head of Policy, Paul Thompson calling the news “a failure of ambition” and has referred to the zero carbon Homes 2016 target as being “in a perilous position”.
Elsewhere the Solar Trade Association took a similar stance with Chief Executive, Paul Barwell saying “It’s depressing to see so little leadership from central Government in transforming how we build homes in the UK.”
Again, unflattering words from the MD of Knauf Insulation, John Sinfield, who’s called Cameron’s ‘greenest government ever’ slogan into question: “If the Government is truly serious about meeting its carbon reduction obligations then decisive action needs to the taken to improve the efficiency of ALL the UK’s housing stock.”
It is understandable those whose businesses rely on selling more renewable products and more insulation are going to be miffed at the news… but it’s not all negative… Nuala Barr from Shower-Save, a company which makes waste water heat recovery systems has contacted Energist to say: “New build properties with a WWHRS installed can improve their SAP rating by 5-8%. This is in line with revisions to Part L, due to come into effect in April 2014.”
Here’s some quotes from groups which represent builders and architects in the UK:
Hywel Davies; Technical Director at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has taken a more impartial view: “It is good to have a statement and that the Government is keeping energy efficiency at the forefront. However we now await the details to understand the implications more fully.” This is true – the full details of what Part L 2014 entails won’t be released until autumn.
Director of Policy and Communications at the UK Green Building Council, John Alker: “The fact there is any uplift at all is good news – it’s a victory for all those who know that industry can continue to innovate, to improve standards and reduce carbon cost-effectively.”
And at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), they have ‘largely welcomed’ the news, but Head of External Affairs, Anna Scott-Marshall points out “Our collective attempts to achieve affordable zero carbon homes with low energy costs for consumers will suffer greatly because housebuilders haven’t been encouraged enough by Government.”
So to summarise, if you’re in the housebuilding industry, this seems to be the news you were hoping for because you’ll be saving money (compared to where we thought we’d be) and you shouldn’t need to make radical changes to your designs. But if you sell products which make homes more efficient, this week’s announcement has been a bitter pill to swallow.
‘What do we think’ we hear you cry [pause for cries from the crowd]. At Energist, we don’t play politics. Our MD, Sarah Fenwick: “Whatever your view is on Part L, we will make it as simple and as straightforward a process as possible, hit your deadlines, advise you on alternative options, give you practical solutions [and] help you get your building signed off.”
One final thought of the day comes from @SmithGoodPR on Twitter: “Just because the changes to #PartL are unambitious doesn’t mean that we can’t design and build to better energy efficiency standards!”
Share your #PartL thoughts with @EnergistUK