Fenestration of the Future: Zero Carbon

Sustainability, carbon footprints, recycling and green manufacturing processes are now commonplace discussions across the boardrooms of systems companies, fabricators and installers. Not only are consumers more educated about the impact on the environment of the products they buy – but the government isn’t far behind them with increasingly stringent building regulations. Will you be ready?

On the Horizon

In February 2019, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) released its white paper entitled “UK housing: Fit for the future?” The guidelines it suggests and outlines are likely to have major implications for the construction industry for many years to come.

The CCC’s white paper is a direct response to the Government Policy for Zero Carbon homes that was implemented in 2016 – but ultimately fell short. Whether the failure of the process was because of lack of funding or lack of skills or training, there is more of an appetite for it now than ever before.

Impacts to the Fenestration Industry

While the document does outline many other changes, for the purpose of this article we’ll address those which directly impact our industry.

Performance, Compliance and Skills Gap

The Climate Change Commission outlines the 2016 policy failures as ‘the gap in performance standards, as well as the lack of enforcement and contractors available with the skills required to undertake such work.’

To address the growing gap in thermal performance levels between new build and existing homes, the CCC proposes strengthened levels of enforcement of building regulations and standards as well as imposing higher penalties for those who are non-compliant.

Additionally, the CCC looks for the implementation of additional ‘Building Our Skills’ policies to grow the knowledge of those in the construction industry – something the fenestration industry is already getting behind. This will lead to the construction of zero-carbon properties being much more commonplace and becoming less expensive to build. This ultimately makes them more desirable to consumers looking for a zero-carbon home.

Existing Property Refurbishment

An important focus for the CCC is making the 29 million existing properties in the UK more climate-resilient, airtight and more energy efficient. In fact, by 2025 the target is to have no homes at all connected to the gas grid.

To accomplish this, all existing properties would need to be PassivHaus certified, including passive heating and cooling measures, ventilation, reduced moisture and increased air quality.

For the fenestration industry, this equates to triple-glazing, tinted glazing on South and West facing windows and specialised window systems such as Liniar’s EnergyPlus90 – the first PassivHaus certified PVCu window system.

PassivHaus certified windows assist in lowering the energy required to heat properties significantly. If you’re a systems company without a PassivHaus range or a fabricator who doesn’t offer one, you’ll be playing catch-up soon with companies that have already achieved this specification.

New Build Specification Updates

According to Government Policy, the UK has hopes of building up to 1.5 million new homes by 2022, and part of this white paper from the CCC suggests that all of those new homes be built to a low or zero-carbon specification, being water and energy-efficient as well as resilient to the changing climate.

In terms of possible new building regulations or specifications from new build contractors, the CCC recommends ultra-low energy efficiency ratings, superior airtightness, passive cooling measures – and all as ‘built-in’ specifications. Essentially, they want all homes to have these designations from the point of construction – and not something homeowners will need to adjust later down the line once they’ve purchased the property.

Being Proactive not Reactive

As an industry, we’re well known for preparing to stay ahead of government legislation – and this time shouldn’t be any different.

At Liniar, we’re already seeing a sharp increase in the demand for products that contribute to constructing or maintaining low or zero-carbon footprint homes. This includes the EnergyPlus90 window range and Resurgence, the UK’s first double-rebated PVCu flush sash window. Both of these products already meet the standards suggested by the CCC, putting Liniar in a good position for the coming decade.

Read the Climate Change Commission’s white paper for full details on all suggestions put forward to the UK Government at https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/UK-housing-Fit-for-the-future-CCC-2019.pdf.

Learn about Liniar’s ultra-energy efficient and PassivHaus certified range of windows, doors and conservatories at www.liniar.co.uk.

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