The landscape for energy legislation, driven by initiatives to tackle climate change, is often changing. How will building developers and estate managers adapt? By thinking green.
Future regulation: How developers and estate managers will need to think green
Global population growth and an increase in urbanisation (plus the changes in infrastructure) are likely to drive further guidelines and legislation to tackle climate change, particularly within the built environment.
For example, there is now an expectation for buildings to be energy efficient and sustainable when developing new builds. Industry was therefore surprised when the Zero-Carbon Homes policy was scrapped in favour of maximising build rate – the long-term EU targets for reduced CO2 emissions still need to be achieved.
Changes to green build regulations and standards
Many of the policies, regulations, and standards for environmental performance and sustainability are derived from EU legislation, and are stringently applied by local authorities when they assess planning applications for the nation’s buildings.
EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
The EPBD, which includes the EU’s requirement for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for all buildings, is currently under review and will be revised by the end of 2016. Consequently, there may be important changes to associated regulations.
It should be noted, as already set out in the Energy Act 2011, that from April 2018, landlords of residential or business premises will need to ensure that their building has a minimum energy efficiency EPC rating ‘E’.
Climate Change Act 2008
Under the Act, the government undertakes a climate change risk assessment and produces a carbon budget update every five years.
The next risk report is due in January 2017, and will provide the latest implications of climate change on the country’s built environment. The 2012 report, for example, identified an infrastructure energy key risk of significant flooding. The risk reduction opportunity then: reduced energy demand from heating – almost 50% of total emissions is from energy used for heating.
The carbon budgets provide legally binding limits for emissions towards the 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (from 1990 levels).
In November 2015, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has recommended a reduction of 57% by 2030 (below 1990 levels). If ratified, the government will issue draft legislation for the fifth carbon budget in 2016. This will undoubtedly be a major driving force behind any future policy and regulatory changes.
Building Regulations Part L
Part L (2013) covers the conservation of fuel and power in buildings, and is a key regulatory mechanism to reduce CO2 and limit NOx emissions. However, it introduced target CO2 reductions that were considerably lower than expected: 6% reduction for new-build houses and 9% for other non-domestic buildings. The next version of the approved document is due in 2016. Whether a greater level of CO2 reductions will be approved is yet to be seen.
BREEAM is used to assess a building’s sustainability by addressing ten important environmental performance factors. For example, is a building using energy efficiently and reducing its carbon emissions?
The latest version (2014) is relatively new, so immediate updates are not anticipated. However, legislative updates elsewhere may change this.
Build green buildings
The gap between a building’s expected performance and its actual performance, in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impact, is a key concern within the building industry, and is a major influence behind the government’s policies for improved collaboration and best practices of working – Construction Strategy 2025, Government Soft Landings, digital Business Information Modelling.
The involvement of and input from end-users and equipment operator/maintainers throughout all stages of a project should produce a building design that ultimately uses less energy and creates fewer CO2 emissions, by reducing energy waste and selecting energy efficient technology.
Low-carbon technology, such as on-site Combined Heat and Power (CHP), is 25–30% more efficient and produces 30% fewer emissions than using conventional gas boilers and taking electricity from the grid. Also known as cogeneration, CHP is the simultaneous production of both heat and electricity from an on-site system.
CHP is generally more economical for buildings such as hotels, hospitals, leisure centres, prisons, and university halls of residences. It is increasingly being used for decentralised energy networks, such as communal heating and district heat networks.
- Buildings still need to be energy efficient, with lower CO2 emissions.
- Legislation will evolve to maintain the path towards an overall 80% reduction in emissions.
- Regulations and standards will change in line with policy targets.
- Energy performance gaps need to be reduced by preventing waste and improved energy use.
- CHP is a proven method for energy efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Discover how energy legislation changes could affect the development of your building or estate. Download your free eGuide: How criteria for 21st century building performance is testing the environmental credentials of developers and estate managers.