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What’s Next for Section 6? Announcement expected in weeks

The grapevine suggests we’re about to leap to a standard which is closer to zero carbon buildings than we've seen before, and to a target which leaves England and Wales a long way behind their northern neighbours.

In just a few weeks we are expecting the release of a new version of the Technical Handbook Section 6 – if all goes to plan, this new regulation will go live in October 2015, and will outline how Target Emission Rates are going to be calculated for all new buildings going forward. The Scottish Government recently released their comments on the Section 6 consultation document (which was thrown into the public bear-pit at the start of 2013) and this gives us a good insight into the kind of changes we can expect to see.

The headline suggests that the Target Emission Rate from 2015 will be tightened by 21% for houses and 43% for non-domestic buildings. To give that some context across the UK, the current Section 6 targets are more stringent than Part L 2010 (used in England and Wales) – in Wales, the target was recently reduced to 6% domestic and 20% non-domestic. In England, the target was reduced to 6% domestic and just 9% in non-domestic. Most of the focus on the Government’s comments is how the ‘notional dwelling’ packages (aka the ‘Elemental Recipes’) will be changed to bring about such significant changes to the Target Emission Rates created by SAP and SBEM assessors.

Domestic

The current Recipe includes solar thermal panels. Going forward, this is likely to be changed to PV panels where the house is heated by gas or oil… up to 30% of the total roof area! That’s not to say photovoltaics would be a mandatory requirement, but that the Target calculation will include them. If you can find alternative ways of saving this much CO2 without including PV, you’d be welcome to do so, however it’s likely that using renewable technology will be the most straightforward approach to take.

The new Recipes will also include Waste Water Heat Recovery Systems in all cases – again this doesn’t mean such a product is mandatory, but you’d need to find another way of offsetting this saving if you didn’t adopt WWHRS. For homes which use electric heating, the Recipe is currently measured against a heat pump with a CoP efficiency of 1.75. This is very low by today’s standards and is likely to be increased to 2.50. Where developers are working in remote areas, the use of modern heat pumps should be a good step to take in meeting the new targets.

Non-Domestic

The new Elemental Recipe for non-domestic buildings is expected to also include PV panels in order to lower the Target Emission Rate. This notional calculation includes 4.5sqm of PV for every 100sqm of floor area – up to 30% of the total roof area. The limiting U-Values for non-domestic buildings will remain at 2010 levels – this should allow developers design flexibility to create a specification which works, without being forced to adopt extreme fabric specifications. We will be keeping the Energist Knowledge Bank up to date with the latest announcements from the Scottish Government, to keep updated about Section 6 changes, contact us on 08458 386 387.

Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 04.09.2014.