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Are you benefits aware?

  
  
  

Over £19 billion goes unclaimed in welfare benefits each year as many people miss out on money they are entitled to.

This April is Benefits Awareness Month and we're partnering with the charity service, Turn2us, to encourage everyone to check their benefits entitlement. You can visit the campaign website and encourage residents to do the same to use the free Benefits Calculator and find out if you or they are missing out on the help available.

Turn2us is a charitable service which helps people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, grants and other help.

The charity's free, accessible website has been designed to help people find appropriate sources of financial support quickly and easily, based on their particular needs and circumstances.

Turn2us has launched its second annual Benefits Awareness Month. The nationwide media campaign which runs throughout April, aims to address the stigmas around claiming benefits and encourage people in financial need to check their entitlement to welfare benefits using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator

The free and confidential Turn2us website includes:

  • A Benefits Calculator to check which welfare benefits you may be entitled to
  • Clear and concise information on welfare benefits, who can claim, how much you could receive and how to claim
  • An interactive game, with real case studies telling their stories
  • A Find an Adviser tool to help you locate a local or specialist adviser for practical support on benefits.

 

 

Is the social housing sector becoming greener?

  
  
  

Is the social housing sector becoming greener? Or is long-term sustainability – homes that are viable for the planet and landlords’ budgets, equitable and bearable for tenants – still just a promise on the horizon that may or may not be fulfilled?

It’s crucial that we find ways to define and break down what being a ‘sustainable’ social landlord means. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, famously put it: "What gets measured gets managed."

Baker Homes’ SHIFT survey aims to answer just such questions from its members. Every two years all members are encouraged to take the survey to gain a snapshot of the sector at that time. In interim years new members take the survey to gain an understanding of their own impacts. 

SHIFT members, who are forward thinking social housing providers either already doing good green work or keen to improve, are assessed on 56 measures of sustainability, ranging from energy efficiency to resident engagement and strategy. The information obtained provides a unique set of data based on 1.2 million social homes: we can use it to measure the sector’s progress in becoming greener.

In 2008, 16 housing associations took part in the SHIFT assessment. As interest grew, newer members joined and SHIFT now comprises of 40 members. 10 new members joined in 2011, an interim year. This means we can compare new entrants in 2011 to new entrants in 2008 and see how times have changed.

There are some areas where 2011 SHIFT new members were doing significantly more than their predecessors in 2008.

Graph one shows the proportion of SHIFT members assessing if renewables are appropriate for their existing stock was 23% in 2008 and 34% in 2011, a rise of 11%.

This is likely to be a direct result of grant programmes such as the feed-in tariff. Although it is likely that many PV schemes will be cancelled as a result of FIT cuts, Baker Homes believes that SHIFT members should be applauded for having carried out high levels of feasibility which has at least meant that some schemes will go ahead despite the cuts. It also means they have a understanding of what is possible with their homes.

Another interesting change over the last few years, is the number of organisations appointing functional employees to manage sustainability affairs. We can’t point at any single driver for this, but can only speculate that as more organisations see the benefits of pursuing the sustainability agenda, they can justify the internal resource to do so. Graph two shows the proportion of organisations with employees whose function is to work on sustainability.

SHIFT was developed with social landlords. One of their top priorities was that SHIFT ask questions on how well they are adapting to the changing climate.  

This is important. Research indicates that as our climate changes, the UK will be more likely to suffer from water shortages, overheating and higher rain fall. 

Some of these changes have significant implications. For instance, the average insurance claim from the 2007 floods was £50,000 and the overall bill over £3billion[1]. 

It is estimated that by 2050 flood related damage could double in an average year and triple in an extreme year.

Positively, the number of members that assessed their stock against either water shortages, overheating or higher rain fall has increased in the past two years from 19 per cent in 2008 to 42 per cent in 2011 - an increase of 23 per cent.

Sustainability is a very broad topic. If we are to secure a sustainable future the sector needs to ensure broader sustainability issues such as water efficiency and climate change adaptation are captured.  

On some issues performance was similar for 2008 and 2011 entrants. In graph four you can see that the proportion of recycled waste from refurbishment projects was 40% for both years. This indicates that by 2011 new SHIFT entrants have similar recycling rates to those in 2008, perhaps aided by government recycling policies.

Where Government drivers are absent, there are some aspects of sustainability that will take a while to have an impact. One example we have seen is the carbon footprint of the offices.  Data from 2008 was not available so the data here is from the 2010 survey. Entrants in 2011 generally had higher emissions than those of 2010.

Mr Eagles says this may be because more social landlords are joining SHIFT, at an earlier stage on their journey towards sustainability. "A wide variety of organisations have been involved in SHIFT. In the first year of assessment a number of our members were already quite structured in their approach. We are increasingly seeing a wider range of abilities coming to the group. It is positive that organisations that have more room to improve are coming forward to be assessed, gaining assistance in improving. This may explain why SHIFT entrants in 2011 were not performing as well on some areas as previous members”. 

Although the SHIFT average is better than the national average benchmark of 245 kgCO2/m2/yr, this data indicates that the whole sector has a way to go before it meets the best practice benchmark of 40 kg of CO2/m2/yr. 

In some areas, 2011 SHIFT entrants showed a lower performance than  2008 entrants.

Interestingly the latest cohort of SHIFT members are far less likely to have sustainability listed as specific objective for directors than 2008 members. This may be because a lack of Government drivers for all associations to have one. Nevertheless, as can be seen from the waste recycling statistic, in some cases this does not seem to have affected environmental performance, merely delayed improvements.

Baker Homes’ managing director, Andrew Eagles, comments on some of the other findings. "SHIFT members continue to work towards reducing their environmental impacts. There are some very pertinent findings amongst the data," says Mr Eagles. "We are seeing that the hard work from SHIFT members is paying off and perhaps indications that government policies are important. We are also aware that not all indicators are improving." 

He added, “It would be interesting and perhaps necessary from a UK perspective to assess the sustainability of the remainder of the sector in the same way”.


[1] Your Home in a Changing Climate,London Climate Change Partnership, February 2008

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A housing association's garden makeover for Climate Week

  
  
  

A ‘ground force’ team at a Sanctuary Care home in Stoke-on-Trent have been making over their garden for Climate Week thanks to a £1,000 grant.

The gardens at Broadmeadow Court Care Home in Chesterton were in need of a revamp in time for spring, so the home applied for a grant from Sanctuary’s Grand Ideas Fund, a scheme which funds local community projects.

The home successfully secured funding and an army of green fingered volunteers, led by the home’s activities leader Janine Barrett and Sanctuary’s Sustainability Manager Sophie Atkinson, started work on creating the garden the residents have always wanted. They were supported by volunteers from the neighbouring Newcastle Day Service, which provides support for adults with learning disabilities.

The work was carried out as part of Climate Week (24 to 18 March), a week where people across the country take action to reduce their impact on the environment and raise awareness about climate change.

Sophie said: “With Climate Week upon us this was a fantastic opportunity to carry out a project which benefits the environment, while creating a stunning area for the home’s residents to enjoy for years to come.”


One of the home’s residents, 74-year-old Pat Smallman said: “It was wonderful how everybody worked together to make our garden look so beautiful and I am looking forward to sitting outside and enjoying it.”

At one end of the garden there will be a sensory corner, which will be a therapeutic area for residents living with dementia, with the relaxing aroma of lavender and rosemary. The middle of the garden will be a haven for wildlife, with insect habitats, wild flowers and bird feeders. This area will attract insects and other wildlife which the residents love watching.

Another section of the garden has been cleared so that it can be transformed into a beach area, complete with a brightly coloured beach hut, sand and a water feature.

The home’s manager Kath Hemmings said: “It was wonderful to have our friends from the Newcastle Day Service along to support us. It was lovely to see everyone working together to transform the garden and create a wonderful area for our residents.”

Janine added: “Our residents absolutely loved taking part in this project and are really looking forward to using the new areas for activities, especially in the summer months when it will be wonderful for them to see the wildlife attracted by the bird boxes and flowers.”

Janine made sure that there were a variety of activities planned during the day so that everyone could take part. These ranged from the strenuous digging and clearance work, to more relaxing indoor crafts. Many of our residents enjoyed watching the team outside work up a sweat while they planted flowers and painted plant pots to add some vibrant colour to the garden.

Sanctuary’s Grand Ideas Fund offers up to £1,000 to groups across England which need financial support to help deliver activities within their local community. It is designed to support as wide a variety of projects as possible, including volunteering, projects involving young and older people, environmental and educational projects.

Notes:

Established in 1969, Sanctuary Group is a successful leading-edge housing and care provider, managing over 78,000 homes throughoutEngland andScotland including general rented, sheltered and supported accommodation, student and key worker accommodation.

Part of Sanctuary Group, Sanctuary Care is a professional, financially sound organisation with a good reputation and is passionate about the quality of services it provides.

Sanctuary Care was established in 1995 to provide older people with high quality nursing and residential care. All its income is re-invested into the business which allows it to provide residents with excellent standards of care from well managed and maintained homes.

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Water shortages, overheating, flooding! What are landlords doing to adapt to climate change?

  
  
  

The impacts of climate change have been known for a while but recent news reports on water shortages have highlighted how important it is to be prepared. 

Baker Homes has a new tool for cost effectively modelling climate change risk assessment for thousands of existing properties. This has proven particularly useful for social housing landlords who want to find out how their stock may be affected by future climate change, but don’t have the resources to carry out the assessment on a home by home basis.

The methodology assesses the three main impacts of climate change that are projected in theflooded homes coming years, namely flood risk, overheating and water scarcity. The methodology combines existing; government approved tools and databases in a unique way, so that the three risks can be assessed using property data, typically held by asset managers.

This is a huge bonus for asset managers, as to do the analysis on a home by home basis would take up immense resources. The process results in an assessment, down to address level, which can then be used to identify homes at highest risk.

A recent assessment found that a projected 28% of properties were particularly vulnerable to overheating, 9% vulnerable to flood risk and 97% of properties were contributing to water scarcity in a region.

To combat this, simple mitigation recommendations were also included in the assessments, which enabled the landlord to prepare its stock for forthcoming years.

The benefits include:

  • less remediation work after flood events
  • less health risks from properties particularly vulnerable to overheating
  • lower water bills for residents
  • sufficient water in areas of high risk of water scarcity
  • landlord cost savings when combined with developing a fuel poverty strategy

Sovereign Kingfisher has used the methodology and Surveyor – Technical, Sian Lewis-Harding has said, “The analysis provided by Baker Homes has enabled us to highlight which of our properties are most at risk from future impacts. This means we can anticipate which of our homes will need what kind of works and we can start planning accordingly. The effects of climate change are increasingly more apparent and it is reported to start having an effect as early as 2025, it is never too early to begin adaptation.”

Baker Homes Managing Director, Andrew Eagles, commented, “We are encouraged that all the landlords we work with are committed to reducing carbon emissions. What the UK needs to do as well is to identify and rectify those existing properties that will be affected by historic carbon emissions, and we want to work with landlords who are concerned to protect their properties from the threat that climate change brings.” He added, “This new methodology will do just that and has the spin-off benefit of bringing increased well-being and reduced utility bills to residents.”

retrofit-homes-to-low-carbon

 

 

Rent arrears and fuel poverty – joining the dots

  
  
  

With increasing fuel prices and more unemployment, the numbers of people finding themselves in fuel poverty are increasing. The latest data from The National Statistics Office states that in England 4 million households were in fuel poverty in 2009 compared to 1.2 million in 2003.  The social costs range from premature deaths to school children not being able to do their homework.

As well as social costs, there is also an acceptance that fuel poverty is a contributory factor in rent arrears. Although the social landlords that we work with are keen to address these issues from an energy efficiency point of view, the rent arrears issue cannot be ignored. This is a further reason to improve the energy efficiency of stock.

Although it makes intuitive sense that there is a relationship between fuel poverty and rent arrears, there is little formal data about the relationship. The recent London Poverty Report may give an indication of the scale of the issue.

The data in the table below is taken from that report and relates to 2008.

 

% of households in poverty

% of households with debt over £500

London

27

4

Outside London

22

2.5

It was never the intention of the report to correlate these figures, but it does perhaps indicate that there is a correlation. From the data, an increase in the numbers of households in poverty from 22% to 27% leads to an increase of households with debts from 2.5% to 4%. In other words, a 5% increase in poverty leads to a 1.5% rise in debt.

Government response

The fuel poverty agenda is very closely linked with the energy efficiency agenda. The government response is slowly manifesting itself and there are implications for social landlords. The Fuel Poverty Strategy states as its aim that no household should be in fuel poverty by 2016. Government is taking action on this issue in the private rental sector.  From 2018 private landlords will not be allowed to rent out properties with an EPC rating of F or G. Will this kind of regulation be seen for social landlords? There is not yet regulation for affordable housing providers but many leading organizations are taking action themselves.

The proposed building regulation changes for 2013 will also affect a much wider range of refurbishments to homes. The changes, called consequential improvements, mean that certain changes, such as window replacement, will also trigger an obligation to make other energy efficiency improvements in the home.

Risk assessment

There are three factors to fuel poverty. These are fuel prices, household income and household energy usage. There is little social landlords can do to influence fuel prices and household income, but energy usage is largely dependent on the energy efficiency of the home, which is within the scope of a social landlord[1].

Using standard energy assessment procedures and current energy prices it is possible to estimate the cost of fuel for a household. It is also possible to estimate incomes for a household based on the number of bedrooms. It is then to compare if fuel costs compared to income exceed 10%. Where it does exceed 10%, these homes can be assumed to be at risk of fuel poverty. They can be targeted for help with either extra benefits, or preferably, for energy efficiency improvements.

For one home at a time, this task is relatively simple. However, when a landlord has thousands of properties, the task may be a bit more daunting. Thankfully there are services that can carry out this risk assessment easily and evaluate the cost effectiveness of measures that reduce the risk of fuel poverty.

Conclusion

It is hoped that risk assessment work will lead to reduced fuel poverty in the UK and that school children will be able to get on with their work in decent conditions. Who knows, some of them will grow up to find better ways out of fuel poverty. Until then, it is largely up to us.

If you want help identifying likely fuel poverty in the homes you manage, get in touch. Call the friendly team on 020 89730429 or email us on info@bakerstimber.co.uk.


[1] To a certain extent resident behaviour can also be influenced by the landlord, but the largest effect is that of home energy efficiency.

 

Press release: Winners of the SHIFT sustainability best practice awards 2011/24 announced

  
  
  

Winners of the SHIFT sustainability best practice awards 2011/24 announced

Last week at the glamorous Birmingham Banqueting Suite, those organisations leading the way with reductions in environmental impacts, were announced at the SHIFT best practise awards.

The Baker Homes Index For Tomorrow was developed in 2008 as a best-practice group for registered providers and their supply chains, with support from the Housing Corporation, UK Green Building Council, WWF-UK and the Mayor of London.

            WWF logo small       Mayor of London

Over 50 organisations now take part - up from 16 the first year - and manage more than a million UK homes. The award-winners are SHIFT members who made proven reductions in environmental impacts in the past year.

 

                   Green Square SHIFT award                                                           Riverside SHIFT award

These awards were particularly exciting. Members are measured against specific environmental metrics such as CO2 per square metre of office space or percentage of housing stock with water-efficient devices. Strategic issues and resident engagement on environmental issues are also covered.

Homes and Communities Agency Chief Executive Pat Ritchie applauded the efforts and the awards: “Reducing environmental impacts is important to us all – at the HCA we have cut our own carbon emissions by 24% in a year – so it is great to see many of our housing association partners are reducing their impacts and having their efforts measured, verified and rewarded. Congratulations to these winners of the SHIFT awards.”

Andrew Eagles, Managing Director of Baker Homes, commended the whole group: “These organisations have stood up to be tested on their environmental credentials. Their peers felt it important to recognise organisations that had most improved or done exceptionally well in individual categories. It is great to be rewarding reductions in environmental impacts.”  The winners of the 2011/24 awards are as follows:

Organisation

Category

Regenda

Most significant improvement in reducing environmental impacts.

Gentoo

Most significant efforts to ensure their strategy and management policies are reducing environmental impacts.

Riverside

Most significant efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of their offices and operations.

Bromford Group

One of the top organisations making significant efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of their existing homes.

Wakefield and District

One of the top organisations making the most significant effort to reduce the environmental impacts of their existing homes.

Green Square                              

One of the top organisations making the most significant efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of their new build homes.

Wakefield and District

One of the top organisations making the most significant efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of their new build homes.

Outstanding research assisting the sector understand sustainability challenges.

Nottingham Community Housing Association

Championing sustainability: For exceptional personal contributions to sustainability over the year –  Andrea Griffiths-James, Energy & Environmental Services Coordinator, Nottingham Community Housing Association.

West Kent

Lifetime award for contributions to sustainability – Janet Ranson, Principal Development Manager

The Homes and Communities Agency and SHIFT principal partners: Inside Housing, Mears, Solar Tech, V Phase presented the awards. 

Later this year, all SHIFT members will again be independently assessed to check progress in reducing impacts and to determine which organisations meet the converted Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze or Commended status. 

------

Notes:

Baker Homes Limited acts as the secretariat for the SHIFT Index and is the leading provider of sustainable housing training and consultancy in the UK. For more information on these and other services please see www.bakerstimber.co.uk  Or be in touch with Andrew Eagles, Managing Director, Baker Homes Ltd.

andrew@bakerstimber.co.uk
0208 973 0420

download-green-report

 

£50,000 funding opportunity - WPD Community Chest

  
  
  

Western Power Distribution (WPD) have just launched their Community Chest grant scheme, and £50,000 is available to enable communities to install energy efficiency measures in community buildings. The grant is being administered by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) who can also provide expert advice and guidance to help groups to carry out an auditenergy efficiency of their buildings.

Community groups within WPD’s distribution area, which serves the Midlands, South and West Wales and the South West of England, can apply for grants of up to £1000, in order to pay for simple but effective energy efficiency measures to not only reduce their energy costs but also reduce the carbon emissions of the buildings they use for their activities.

Eligible measures include insulating loft spaces, installing energy monitors, draught proofing windows and doors, fitting effective heating controls and installing low energy lighting.

The application process is simple. Groups are asked to submit a short application form and provide quotes for recommended improvements, as well as completing an audit of their building.

Further information regarding additional funding schemes from other sources will be made available on the LEAF website as they are announced.

Documents that will be of use for your application are:
Guidance and eligibility document
Application form
Energy survey
Map of WPD area
How to recognise cavity walls

Email wpdcc@cse.org.uk for more information and guidance.

 

Building Regulations 2013 - consultation on energy efficiency in new and existing dwellings part 4

  
  
  

Existing Homes

The most crucial proposed change for existing dwellings is that of consequential improvements. Similar requirements are already in building regulations but only apply to properties over 1,000m2 of floor space. The new regulations propose consequential improvements for all dwellings, regardless of size.

There are two aspects to consequential energy efficiency improvements. Firstly, what triggers when they have to be carried out and secondly what improvements have to be carried out.

The triggers are when floor space is increased for example with a new extension or a loft conversion. Another trigger is when a certain amount of windows are replaced. The consultation seeks views on whether this should be when 50% of an elevations windows are replaced or when 50% of all windows are replaced, or even some other trigger level.

The next issue is what needs to be done. Currently energy efficiency improvements up to the value of 10% of the principle works are required, where it is “technically, functionally and economically feasible”. However, with the advent of Green Deal there is an argument that any Green Deal works require no upfront costs and therefore will be below the 10% threshold. If the occupier does not want to pursue Green Deal then they must look at the interventions listed in a valid EPC certificate for the property or consult the options listed in the guidance. 

Typically for extensions it is expected that interventions such as loft or cavity wall insulation, hot water cylinder insulation, heating controls, draughtproofing, new boilers, new windows or solid wall insulation will meet the requirement. For window replacement project only, only low cost measures are proposed to be triggered. These will be loft or cavity wall insulation, hot water cylinder insulation and draughtproofing. Occupiers of historic or conservation buildings should seek further guidance from English Heritage.

The only other proposal is that when windows are replaced B rated ones are used, instead of the current C rated.

Summary of the Part L changes as a whole

The proposed change to building regulations begin to pave the way to zero carbon new build dwellings and energy efficient existing homes. In summary:

  • The proposals as they stand will lead to new build dwellings in 2013 having 8% less carbon emissions than 2010 building regulations, in preparation for a 100% reduction by 2016.  This approach is preferred to a slightly more expensive approach that will achieve 26% carbon reductions.  Views are being sought on which approach is preferred by consultees.
  • A new Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard will be introduced to encourage housebuilders to adopt a fabric first approach.  This will be a new concept to builders who have no experience of the Code for Baker Homes.
  • Views are being sought on the “fuel factor” which influences the target carbon emissions that a new dwelling must achieve.  In any case, the fuel factor will not influence the target carbon compliance in 2016.
  • Views on a quality assurance standard are being sought.  Key items will be for overdesign of energy efficiency aspects of a new dwelling and post-construction testing such as co-heating tests.
  • All new dwellings will now be expected to make energy efficiency improvements, where economically feasible, when triggered by other notifiable works.

I hope this summary has been useful. Do let the Government know your thoughts on whether these proposals could be improved.

We provide training on retrofitting existing homes to low carbon levels, Passivhaus, the Code for Baker Homes and other areas. See a list of potential courses here.

We also have a best practice group for organizations aiming to become more sustainable. Do get in touch to find out more.

retrofit-homes-to-low-carbon

 

Is solar PV still viable with Government cutting the feed in tariff?

  
  
  

Sustainability covers a wide variety of issues. Baker Homes manages an award winning best practice programme called the Baker Homes Index For Tomorrow (SHIFT) for housing providers and their supply chains. We have a number of leading organizations as corporate partners to this initiative. Our corporate partners are assisting to drive forward the sustainability agenda in a number of ways.  Here SolarTech si providing their perspective on the Governments' proposed cuts to FITs.

Q: Are solar P.V. systems still a viable investment for the affordable housing sector with the Government now cutting the feed in tariff after 3rd March 2024?

A: "Yes".

Even though the opportunity to install “retrofit P.V.” on affordable housing and public sector buildings to make the 13-15% financial return may now have ended with the Governments' “fast track review” of feed in tariffs, there has been a very positive reaction from the renewable industry to counter act this by radically reducing the cost of P.V installations from the previous levels of 2011 now making retrofitting P.V systems still a very good overall investment for 2024.

For P.V. systems up to 50kw the enhanced payment tariffs are still available and will typically give a 10-24% return index linked for 25 years. A 50kw system will generate around £14,500 / annum and could easily pay for itself in around 10 years.

A recent survey found that over 80% of local authorities and housing associations were still considering retrofitting P.V renewables in preparation for the 2025 deadline to reduce carbon emissions by 20%.

So fitting a solar P.V. system is a long term investment but if you are looking for a solution that will remain at maximum efficiency for a minimum of 25 years then SolarTech can offer the best brands of P.V. to best fit your individual project needs. All of our products enjoy a full 25 year performance guarantee and are Government approved under the M.C.S. scheme. This approach ensures that you can install a system with the confidence that it will be fully operational over the Feed in Tariff scheme.

  • Finance

We are also able to offer a lease solution where appropriate enabling clients to spread the cost of the installation over a period between 2 and 10 years. This enables our Clients to spread the cost of the installation over a number of years whilst benefiting from the full income of the Feed-in tariff. This solution compares favourably with “free P.V.” schemes where the installer / S.P.V. will take all of the income from the feed-in tariff.

  • Maintenance

SolarTech are also able to offer remote monitoring with condition based maintenance capability ensuring maximum system performance over its life time and a fail safe way of recording all the individual quarterly fits payments without a need to access multiple tenants’ properties to read the meters.

SolarTech is a Corporate Partner of the award winning SHIFT programme. For more information on SHIFT please see here.

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Building Regulations 2013 - consultation on energy efficiency in new and existing dwellings part 3

  
  
  

Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard for new dwellings

On one level, wherever the FEES level is set is academic, because the target carbon reduction will have to be met whether builders chose to do this by improving the fabric or by installing other carbon reduction measures such as photovoltaics. It should be noted that it is recognised that certain build types will be harder to achieve a FEES than others.

The units used for FEES are kWh/m2/yr. It represents the heating demand of a home taking into account fabric insulation, air permeability and thermal bridging. The figure is already in use in the Code for Baker Homes. The 2016 level are expected to be maximums of 39 kWh/m²/yr for apartments and mid-terrace houses and 46 kWh/m²/yr for semi-detached, end of terrace and detached houses. 

The government prefers to set intermediate FEES maximums at 43/52 kWh/m2/yr (depending on home type). Housebuilders are free to build to better standards in order to achieve the carbon compliance, but the rationale for setting a higher, but less demanding FEES is explored in the consultation. They argue that for some properties, e.g. off-gas properties, achieving the lower, more demanding FEES will go most of the way to achieving the carbon compliance levels. 

There will only be a small amount of carbon reduction to achieve. One of the cheaper options will be to install a technology such as ground source heat pumps. As the heat pumps are a finite size, the added carbon reduction will ”overshoot” the carbon reduction compliance target. In other words too much carbon would be saved. Again, it remains to be seen if respondents believe this logic is reasonable.

Fuel Factor for new dwellings

The consultation also addresses the fuel factor used to set the variable target in current building regulations. No preference is expressed, presumably because the fuel factor will not feature at all in the 2016 regulations, so whatever decision is reached will only be short lived. It is recognised that preserving the fuel factor at its current level, some types of property may not attain any reduction in carbon reductions compared to 2010 regulations. On the other hand removal of the fuel factor may mean an extra cost of up to £4,992 per unit to achieve carbon reduction targets.

Compliance for new dwellings

Part of the consultation revolves around the quality of compliance with new targets. The Government is keen to hear views on how this can be introduced. Suggestions include a  quality assurance scheme to be introduced. Those who are accredited to the quality assurance scheme will be able to use as built figures in their SAP calculations. Those not accredited will have to include a margin of error in their SAP calculations which is an element of over design, to ensure that the as built home meets the modeled emissions rates.

One of the more interesting proposals is the proposal that the quality assurance scheme should include an element of post construction testing and co-heating tests. These tests are more onerous but provide far more detail on how homes perform.  

The government is keen to hear views on compliance. Do let them know. In the next blog I am going to talk through the most important element of the changes to Part L for existing homes. Government are proposing a mechanism to drive forward energy efficiency improvements in existing homes.

We provide training on retrofitting existing homes to low carbon levels, Passivhaus, the Code for Baker Homes and other areas. See a list of potential courses here.

Continue to Part 3 of this article.

 

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