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Top Sustainability Tips for Developing In London

The London Plan sets a stringent carbon dioxide emission target: a 35% reduction over the requirements of Part L 2013. This target can influence all aspects of your design so here are our top tips to ensure you don’t fall short of London’s sustainability expectations.

  1. Fabric First; the first tier in the Energy Hierarchy of the London Plan is be Lean; reduce energy demand. Focus on the building fabric, improve insulation and design for air tightness. The greater your reduction in CO2 from building fabric, the less you’ll need to invest in low carbon fuel and renewable energy sources
  2. Ventilation: consider how you’ll ventilate the development. Pollution and noise constraints may force you down the route of whole house mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
  3. Manage solar gain; make the most of the sun’s rays. Free heat from the sun can greatly reduce a dwelling’s energy consumption and carbon emissions, but it can also lead to a risk of summer overheating. This can be controlled through a combination of appropriate ventilation and the solar gain value (g value) of glazing. You need to strike a balance with the g value to ensure that you reduce the risk of overheating, whilst maximising solar gain. For non-domestic developments with comfort cooling, aim to reduce solar gain to minimise the cooling demand.
  4. Consider your heating strategyThe London Plan requires that all apartment blocks and non-domestic developments are provided with some form of low carbon heat network. Will you connect into an existing district heating network, provide site wide Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or regular gas fired community heating? Be careful when sizing your CHP system – too large and the system won’t run continuously meaning you’re not getting maximum return on investment. Once your heating strategy is finalised, you can then size your plant room accordingly.
  5. Renewable Energy; whilst the London Plan assumes a 20% reduction in carbon emissions from renewable energy generation, the overall goal is to meet the 35% reduction over the Part L 2013 standards. Provided you meet this overall target there will likely be flexibility in the amount of renewable energy you need to provide. So focusing on building fabric and low carbon heat sources will reduce any reliance on renewable energy.
  6. Carbon offset payments – If it’s not viable or feasible to meet the 35% reduction on site, then consider a carbon offset payment to the Local Authority. The standard cost is £60 per tonne over a 30 year period, but check with the Local Authority as some set their own cost of carbon. You may have to go down this route for large houses where compliance with Part L 2013 can be challenging. Smaller developments that cannot utilise CHP are also likely to have to explore this route.
  7. Any other requirements? Many London Borough’s will also require additional sustainability standards to be met; Code for Sustainable Homes for residential developments (if they were granted planning permission after 31st March 2015), BREEAM for non-domestic developments or BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment for household extensions, including basement developments. All of these standards need to be integrated into your design and must be considered pre-planning.
  8. Don’t leave it too late; before you put pen to paper to design your development, make sure that you’ve checked out the sustainability requirements of your Local Planning Authority and have a plan in place to address them. These standards can no longer be considered as an afterthought and must be considered pre-planning to avoid any costly re-designs and program delays.

Would you like to know more? If you have any concerns about developing in London, please contact us today. We advise you at every stage possible and give you the best possible solutions in your development. We always bring our considerable experience to help you to save money on your build, ring us on 08458 386 387 today.

Stuart Clark

Author: Stuart Clark

This article was published by Stuart Clark on 05.04.2016.