Part L Building Regs: NHBC Poll reveals 84.5% of Industry professionals think Zero carbon target for 2016 unrealistic

What is Zero Carbon and why does it matter?

Part L of the building regulations deal with the conservation of fuel and power in buildings. Recent revisions have seen tightening of the regulations to achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions through improved thermal performance and a reduction in draughts. The goal is that all new residential buildings have a zero carbon rating by 2016. This is part of a wider effort to achieve a legally binding target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% of their 1990 levels by 2050.

Everybody in the construction industry knows this is going to be tough to achieve in under two years. This was made very clear when an NHBC poll of industry professionals conducted this morning revealed that the vast majority (84.5%) believed that the target was not going to be met.

Given the 2016 zero carbon target for new homes was set in 2007, the results of the poll must be disappointing for a number of key organisations such as the the Zero Carbon Hub. Also given the amount of time the industry has had to prepare, is it even approaching the problem in the right way. For example building houses brick by brick is slow, expensive and gives potential for thousands of minute air gaps. Adding solar panels to a roof when they could be integrated seems wasteful too. I’m no architect or building designer, but maybe part of the problem is that we’re expecting too much of what are pretty much ancient building techniques. We don’t build cars the same way we did a century ago, why shouldn’t this apply to houses?

What about energy efficiency and older homes?

The wider issue, remains that with 8 million of the UK’s 26 million houses being over 60 years old (pre-dating any building regulations governing energy efficiency or conservation of power). In fact, the UK has some of the most elderly and energy inefficient building stock in the world. Most of which will still be standing in 2050.

Despite advances in construction materials, technology and awareness of the need to to reduce CO2 emissions it’s going to be a huge task to retro-fit older properties to improve energy efficiency.

Maximising the energy efficiency of existing homes

Where homes lose most energy from:
45% Roof
35% Windows and doors
10% Walls
10% floor

The most popular solutions to reducing energy loss from existing buildings are: Increased loft insulation, double glazed windows / doors and cavity wall insulation.

Other areas you can check to improve the energy efficiency of your properties

In addition to the above:

Loft Hatches – Homeowners should check their loft hatches, there’s no point having 300-400mm on insulation in your loft if you have a leaky poorly insulated loft hatch, it will offset some of the gains. After doors and some windows the loft hatch is one of the largest openings in a building.
Lighting – No energy lighting. Tubular Skylights catch and transmit natural light and provide natural light







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