Clear targets and timescales (with a defined planned trajectory towards them)

Achieving the mission proposed will, without doubt,  require innovative new products and processes. Costs will reduce as a result of innovation and from greater adoption of more energy efficient solutions, but industry can only deliver this with clear targets and requirements as well as  clearly developed supporting policies. Innovation funding and support for demonstration projects is one of the key factors which can help to drive a supply chain that continues to innovate.

In response to this question it is also worth revisiting the previous policy ambition to deliver zero carbon homes by 2016 and the early stages of a policy to deliver zero carbon non-domestic buildings by 2019. The scrapping of the zero carbon homes policy and lack of clear signal regarding non-domestic buildings has had a detrimental impact on Industry; both housebuilders and product manufacturers had taken on board the zero carbon homes policy direction and undertaken considerable work towards the deadline, creating innovative products and processes in order to do so. 

Ideally we should seek to reintroduce a phased approach, like the zero carbon homes policy, which goes further than halving emissions.

The new London Plan proposals effectively aiming for a half way to zero approach (on-site), by aiming for a 35% improvement on-site carbon reduction beyond Part L (with 10% beyond Part L just from energy efficiency measures alone for homes and 15% beyond for non-domestic buildings),  then requiring offsetting of the remainder of emissions to zero, through payment to reduce residual emissions off-site (a form of ‘allowable solutions’ that was developed for the zero carbon homes pathway). The plan includes the expectation that developments get as close as possible to zero-carbon on-site as they can, rather than using offset. The plan also states that the Target Emissions Rate (TER) will become more stringent over time to achieve the zero-carbon London ambition and reflect the cost of more efficient construction methods. An indication of the expectation that through innovation, costs will reduce over time.

A similar approach to the London Plan adopted across the rest of the country and for all new homes (not just those with more than 10 on a site) and for all new non-domestic buildings would be a real step forwards. This would require legislation and defined targets. If one metropolitan borough is already aiming for this as a policy, that could be easily replicated elsewhere.

The on-site reduction of 35% in London is set against current Part L of the Building Regulations. Building Regulations are due to be reviewed this year. This is an opportune time to review targets and to set a more ambitious mission, more in line with the London Plan and the previous zero carbon homes policy. Alongside this government must provide more detail on the supporting policies and approaches for industry.

Why the contribution is important

Ambition is fine, but Innovation of ideas and developing them into new products to help halve energy use in buildings will stand a greater chance if there is a firm target, trajectory and timeline in place.

A firm deadline and target will help focus Industry on a variety of potential pathways towards delivery on that target and encourage investment to achieve the aims - this is why even though the zero carbon homes 2016 target was abandoned, the setting of that target and the work carried out towards it was extremely successful;  Industry responded to the ambition and timescale and developed new products, invested and engaged in research and learning towards achieving that aim on the basis of certainty of a requirement put in place. The withdrawal of that previous target however means that a further ambition, without an associated clear and definite regulatory target may be less likely to succeed in driving the necessary levels of investment and innovation to achieve the goal. A firm commitment on the other hand would drive action to deliver and encourage exploration of a variety of possible solutions to achieve it.

by JonathanDucker on July 19, 2018 at 03:47PM

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