All new buildings in England will have to reduce CO2 emissions under new government rules.
The regulations say that emissions must be around 27 per cent lower than current standards for all new buildings, including offices and shops. For homes, the figure is 30 per cent.
The changes to the government’s building regulations, which set the standards in England for the design, construction and alteration of buildings, follow a public consultation and will come into effect from June 2022. They are part of measures to create a greener built environment ahead of the Future Homes and Buildings Standard in 2025, which will mean all future buildings are net zero ready and will not need retrofitting.
Heating and powering buildings makes up 40 percent of the UK’s total energy use, according to the government. It demands that all new residential buildings, including homes, care homes, student accommodation and children’s homes, must also be designed to reduce overheating. Improvements to ventilation will also be introduced to support the safety of residents in newly built homes and to prevent the spread of airborne viruses in new non-residential buildings.
Transitional arrangements are in place which means that if a building notice, initial notice, or full plans for building work are submitted to a local authority before 15 June 2022, then provided the building work begins by 15 June 2023, work on that individual building is permitted to continue under the previous standards.
The government said it was investing £6.6 billion into improving the energy efficiency of buildings during this Parliament.
Housing minister Eddie Hughes said the government is doing everything it can to deliver net zero. “The changes will significantly improve the energy efficiency of the buildings where we live, work and spend our free time and are an important step on our country’s journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment,” he said.
Hwyel Davies, technical director, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, welcomed the new requirements on energy performance modelling and overheating risk assessments.
“We are also pleased to see the renewed commitment that the Future Homes/Buildings standard will ensure new buildings do not need retrofit for Net Zero,” said Davies. “We look forward to working with DHLUC on this, and on the next uplifts for works to existing buildings, since retrofitting our existing stock is essential to deliver Net Zero as well as healthy and comfortable buildings.”
In a statement, the IWFM said: “We welcome the new regulations on CO2 emissions from new homes and buildings. The built environment contributes 40 per cent to total emissions, so new buildings should avoid adding to the problem. But the government will only achieve its Net Zero goal by taking a holistic approach to sustainability across the entire built environment piece, including the value chain and building life cycle. Most stock in place today will be still in functional use by 2050, so retrofitting and sustainable use is critical to delivering Net Zero. Facilities professionals are uniquely placed to help achieve these ambitions by making buildings in use more efficient, safer, healthier and more sustainable.”
The European Commission is also proposing to boost renovation and decarbonisation of buildings by aligning the rules for the energy performance with the European Green Deal and with the aim of decarbonising the EU’s building stock by 2050.
The commission proposes that from 2030, all new buildings must be zero-emission. All new public buildings must be zero-emission already from 2027. This means that buildings must be powered by renewables as far as possible, emit no on-site carbon emissions from fossil fuels and must indicate their global warming potential based on their whole-life cycle emissions on their Energy Performance Certificate.
The new rules also encourage the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and smart technologies to ensure that buildings operate efficiently, and calls for digital building databases to be established.
The proposal supports the roll-out of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in residential and commercial buildings and makes more dedicated parking space available for bicycles.
Kadri Simson, the commissioner for energy, said: “Buildings are the single largest energy consumer in Europe, using 40 per cent of our energy, and creating 36 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions. That is because most buildings in the EU are not energy efficient and are still mostly powered by fossil fuels. We need to do something about this urgently, as over 85 per cent of today's buildings will still be standing in 2050, when Europe must be climate neutral.”