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Strategic support for energy efficiency and sustainability

So, the world didn't end on 21 December 2012...

20/01/2013 13:00:16

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...but how pertinent were the eight key questions that we asked at the start of last year?

Although generally preferring to be forward- rather than backward-looking, Cutland Consulting has carried out an interesting review of the eight key questions that we posed for the sustainability industry this time last year (see separate story in our website News section).  Back then we controversially suggested that more might be achieved by taking less extreme policy positions; the questions, and our latest take on them, are as follows:

Q1: "Passivhaus: can it work?" 

Review: Enthusiasm for Passivhaus has continued apace, but we still haven't seen any of the big players embracing it. We blame ongoing 'austerity measures', although, according to a new NHBC Foundation report, this hasn't stopped the Germans.  More on this below.

Q2: "Zero carbon: good or bad?"

Review: Zero carbon is still A Good Thing (capital letters), but intriguingly there has been virtually zero talk of zero carbon in the relevant circles in the last 12 months. This, and the Government's ongoing policy of 'reducing the regulatory burden', makes us pessimistic for the future of the zero carbon policy. 

Q3: "Allowable Solutions: a cop-out or sensible?" 

Review: We still think sensible, but are disappointed that there was virtually no mention of Allowable Solutions by Government or industry last year.  There are still a number of major issues to be resolved.

Q4: "The fabric standard (FEES): is it set at the right level?"

Review: We still believe that the FEES level is right, and that it would be a sensible standard at which to pitch the 2013 Building Regulations. However, nearly a year after the 2013 Regs consultation closed we have still not had a response from Government. Is Part L doomed along with so much of the rest of the Regs?

Q5: "Zero carbon by 2016: can the UK meet this deadline?"

Review: In view of our feelings about questions 2, 3 and 4 above, even 2020 (which we suggested last year) is now beginning to feel unrealistic. But we hope we're wrong. 

Q6: "The ‘performance gap’: who is to blame?"

Review: We're very pleased to hear increased talk of standards generally (eg. PAS 2030 and similar standards in Green Deal and ECO), but a lot also hinges on the 2013 Building Regs.  If Part L 2013 retains the concept of compliance at the 'as-built' point, then the performance gap will start to close.

Q7: "Would Passivhaus help to close the performance gap?" 

Review: A new report by the NHBC Foundation ("Lessons from Germany's Passivhaus Experience", ref. NF47) discusses the political, economic and cultural differences that have caused Germany to embrace Passivhaus.  The German government seems to have no doubt that the compliance requirements of Passivhaus add value to their national building standards.  UK take note.

Q8: "Monitoring: should it be compulsory?"

Review: Either way, the ongoing economic slowdown means that any national programme of fuel use monitoring will clearly not be funded by Government.  Perhaps we should more vigorously throw down the gauntlet to the academic community and the not-for-profit funding bodies.

January 2013

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