The CCC Progress report- what it means for the UK's future carbon footprint
17 Jul 2019
There’s been plenty of media attention on the UK’s carbon footprint recently, and this momentum appears to have blown a strong wind into the sails of the Committee on Climate Change.
There’s been plenty of media attention on the UK’s carbon footprint recently, and this momentum appears to have blown a strong wind into the sails of the Committee on Climate Change. This Government funded independent group has already won brownie points for showing how the UK can realistically achieve net zero carbon by 2050, and then convincing Theresa May to adopt it.
Their latest report confirms what many have been saying for a while… you can’t just announce that we’re going to reduce carbon emissions; you also need to follow this with action, law changes and incentives. In the construction industry we have seen plenty of headlines proclaiming how homes will be greener, but in reality the targets in building regulations have been on pause since 2013, and in that time we’ve seen both the Feed in Tariff (which encourages solar panels) and Code for Sustainable Homes (which pushes for greener homes) scrapped without replacement.
The CCC’s report suggests this is not unique to construction. Transport, industry and farming are all seeing similar trends of all-talk-little-action.
This new report calls on the Government to confirm what action it’s going to take in the next twelve months and has drawn up a priority list that needs to be addressed by our politicians.
In construction there are four priorities:
- How we’re going to phase out fossil fuel heating from homes that aren’t on the gas grid. Ministers have said this is going to happen, yet haven’t specified how. We may get a clearer picture when the Part L consultation is released (scheduled for this autumn) but this will probably focus only on new builds.
- ‘Policies to improve energy efficiency for all buildings.’ Although a broad statement there is a scheme already in place – the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). This forces landlords into upgrading the worst performing buildings (both homes and non-residential) before they can be sold or rented out.
- The third point is focused on new builds. They want the government to set out how new sites will be ‘ultra-efficient’ and use low carbon heating by 2025.
- The final point is a biggie – closing the performance gap. This is the difference between what Part L and the EPC says, and what happens in reality.
The current methodology isn’t perfect. It uses plenty of assumptions in the background, doesn’t apply regional differences in temperature, wind or daylight hours, and doesn’t consider energy used by cooking, TVs or showers, however there will be new methodology to go with the new Part L, so this gives us the opportunity to review and reduce the performance gap moving forward.
Whilst it’s unlikely these points will be covered in the next version of Part L, this may be the Government’s opportunity to tell us about the Future Homes Standard.
We are certainly going to see a big push towards energy efficient buildings and low carbon heating over the coming decade. Unfortunately for the construction industry, the longer the Government delays any changes, the bigger the steps we’ll need to make to get us on track for the new 2050 net-zero carbon target.