|Submission to the UK Call for Evidence|
|Wednesday, 25 April 2012 13:51|
Build with CaRe submission to the UK Call for Evidence on Energy Efficiency, April 2012
In February 2012, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced the creation within DECC of a dedicated team to “spearhead energy efficiency policy and make it more relevant to people’s everyday lives”.
The press release (http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn12_009/pn12_009.aspx) said the 50-strong team of the Energy Efficiency Deployment Office (EEDO) would pull together expertise from across the Department and continue to support the delivery of the Green Deal, the rollout of smart meters and the increase in renewable heat as well as developing a new energy efficiency strategy to identify the potential for further energy efficiency across the economy.
The first action of the EEDO was to issue a Call for Evidence on Energy Efficiency (http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/eedo/eedo.aspx). Build with CaRe at UEA has submitted a response that focuses on the benefits and the importance of adopting passivhaus standards for both new build and refurbishment.
In Refurbishing Europe (http://www.buildwithcare.eu/news/231-refurbishing-europe, February 2012) we had highlighted (Section 10.1) the lacklustre record of the UK in respect of ambition and action on energy efficiency and our concerns about the smart meter programme (Section 10.5), while our report on the Green Deal (http://www.buildwithcare.eu/articles/78-partners/219-the-green-deal-appraised, October 2011) had highlighted concerns that seem likely, as it currently stands, to make the Green Deal relatively ineffective in transforming the UK housing stock to low-energy standards.
In Build with CaRe, we have been collecting evidence on energy efficiency actions in partner countries, notably Germany, Sweden and Holland. We know that construction of new build and refurbishment of existing homes to the passivhaus standard is already cost effective once user costs as well as initial capital costs are accounted for. This is now also the case in the UK. The institutionally-funded passivhaus development by Broadland Housing Association at Carrow Road, Norwich – the largest passivhaus development in the UK, shows clearly that passivhaus quality for new build makes financial sense when considered as a long-term investment (see http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/ihstory.aspx?storycode=6520823, and also the presentation by Andrew Savage of Broadland Housing at the Build with CaRe Brussels seminar, March 7, 2012, http://www.buildwithcare.eu/images/pdfs/bwc_andrew_savage_120307.pdf).
Hence the adoption of the passivhaus standard for new build domestic and for refurbishment is the biggest single action that can accelerate the progress in energy efficiency that is urgently needed. We urged the UK Government to take the lead and to make passivhaus the default standard for domestic new build, followed by the EnerPHit passivhaus standard for refurbishment.
We noted that without the quality guarantee that passivhaus standards bring, the performance gap between actual energy use of new buildings and design criteria would likely remain a problem. When measured, buildings are almost always found to be far less energy efficient that designs would indicate. Passivhaus quality would mean this performance gap could be eliminated
We pointed out that because of the widespread ignorance of passivhaus principles among the UK construction industry, appropriate investment packages that reflect the long-term benefits of passivhaus construction are rarely presented to financial providers. The funds are in principle available however and bringing property to a very low-energy passivhaus quality is an excellent investment. Perhaps the most important act that Government could take would be to help create the market-place where such investment in low-energy refurbishment could happen. Led by social housing and funded by long-term investors, the quality of work would be assured and skill sets and capabilities would be created.
We noted that adopting the passivhaus standard not only leads to buildings that use exceptionally low levels of energy for heating but also buildings that are comfortable and healthy to live and to work in. As we have reported on the new passivhaus homes at Wimbish in Essex (http://www.buildwithcare.eu/news/238-energy-data-in-a-non-technical-manner), the benefits are loved by the residents:
“You just don't have the bills you would have in a normal house”
“The houses are so light and spacious”
“I'm happy putting my children’s bunk beds by the window as there’s no draughts, and the glass is not cold”
In contrast, we pointed out in our response to the consultation that the quality problems that will almost certainly arise with indoor air quality in so-called zero-carbon homes that are not built to the passivhaus standard are likely to create hostility rather than delight. Not adopting the passivhaus standard will undermine efforts to reduce the energy wasted in buildings.
Finally, we stressed that financial analysis should be whole-life and should consider the full picture, not just initial capital costs. We predicted that a detailed analysis must show that not to adopt passivhaus standards would be financially crazy but the barriers to low-carbon construction must be tackled if progress is to be made. The barriers, listed initially in Refurbishing Europe, were summarised in our submission.
We believe that our arguments are equally applicable to all partner countries.
- Bruce Tofield, University of East Anglia