The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued their starkest warning yet and a call to action with its fifth report calling for the world’s needs to be met by building a net zero global economy by 2050. 

The Good Homes Alliance believes the following actions need to take place – and without delay – for the built environment to meet the IPCC’s challenge:

  1. The UK’s energy and carbon reduction targets for new homes needs to reflect the IPCC’s targets and a new accelerated trajectory should be adopted to meet this. (The UK Green Building Council is currently focussed on this with GHA as a supporter). Further iterations of the Building Regulations on buildings energy efficiency must be more ambitious and the frequency of improvements increased.
  2. The actual energy performance of new homes needs to be incentivised through compliance checks, and must include comfort and health impacts on the occupants.
  3. Notwithstanding points 1 and 2, Government should promote, incentivise and directly support innovation in the planning, design and construction of new homes that align with the IPCC call to action.

The GHA are addressing the IPCC challenge in our Vanguards Campaign, actively promoting enhanced standards and addressing issues of performance, health and energy. Phase 2 of the campaign (running in 2019) is now being planned and will include specific outputs that help address the 3 action points listed above.

Context update

  • The UK Climate change Act 2008 commits to 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2050. The UK is already behind schedule to meet the 4th or 5th Carbon Budgets and there are no clear plans on the routemap to meet the UK Climate Change Act targets.
  • The Prime Minister in her May 2018 speech at Jodrell Bank committed the UK government to “at least halve the energy usage of new buildings by 2030… and aim to halve the costs of reaching the same standard in existing buildings too”, but it remains unclear how any 2030 milestones relate to the 2050 trajectory, and what tools will be used to measure both regulated and unregulated energy accurately for buildings in use.  The proposed zero carbon homes standard due to be implemented in 2016 was abandoned and the 2013 improvements in Building Regulations targets for CO2 emissions were minimal, so there is much to be done as the system currently in place for energy compliance within the Building Regulations does not predict actual energy use.  New homes built to current Building Regulations energy standards are lagging behind the newly stated ambition.
  • The UK Government recently launched their Industrial Strategy and is soon to announce the Construction Sector Deal challenge fund projects.
  • Meanwhile, the “greening” of the national electricity grid via renewable and low carbon energy sources is assisting with the overall reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, with an approximate 50% reduction for the carbon intensity of electricity in version 10 of the SAP methodology compared to the 2013 fuel factor.
  • We know how to produce buildings with very low energy demand, and net zero energy new homes, now – but these are still the exception to the rule and actual built examples very few in number. The Good Homes Alliance believes there is a need for a fresh approach on performance, quality and comfort standards of new homes which currently do not serve homebuyers or developers well.
  • We also recognise that poorly planned, designed, and constructed new homes can impact the health of the occupants, with recent increases in overheating in new homes a case in point. A recent statement originating from Government said that the current Building Regulations are not designed to protect the health of occupants, they are not health regulations, this therefore begs a fundamental question:  who is looking after the health of building occupants?

Get involved

To find out more about our Vanguard Campaign or to become a member of the GHA, please contact us.

The threat to our climate and the new homes challenge

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