Zero Carbon Regulations – Are you ready?

We live in the age of Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and even Sir David Attenborough telling us that the planet is under severe threat from a global warming catastrophe. It’s more than social media influencers and famous people who are taking notice – and all involved want to facilitate change. You can include the government amongst those trying to save the planet and the new building regulations suggested by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) it will soon impact everyone in the construction industry.

Impending Changes

In early 2019, the Climate Change Commission published its report entitled UK Housing: Fit for the Future? Within this report, the CCC outlines the issues with the Zero Carbon housing policy that was released in 2016 – and why it failed. To combat the issues which prohibited that policy from succeeding, this report provides solutions – and how we truly can see Zero Carbon homes taking hold in the future.

2016 Zero Carbon Policy Missteps
As soon as the 2016 Zero Carbon initiative was launched it was destined to go the way of the dodo – for several reasons. Primarily, the lack of skills across the construction industry in these types of building practices, a lack of funding and a lack of penalties for those who weren’t compliant with the new regulations. Now, four years later, the appetite for properties with a zero or ultra-low carbon footprint is sharply on the rise – and the CCC wants it to be the norm.

How this impacts the window and door industry:
The CCC’s report on UK Housing outlines many solutions to create a sustainable and zero carbon housing market – for this article we’ll feature simply on those suggestions which directly impact the fenestration industry.

Product performance, compliance and the skills gap
These three issues directly affected the feasibility of the 2016 Zero Carbon initiative and have an impact on construction and fenestration businesses.

Currently, there is a widening gap in product performance standards – especially between new builds and existing abodes. The CCC’s proposed fix to performance standards would be to introduce new building regulations which are much more strict – and to penalise companies who don’t comply with these standards.

The growing skills gap in the construction industry isn’t new and was still a major influence in the collapse of the 2016 Zero Carbon initiative. The fenestration is already supporting the ‘Building your Skills’ initiative and other construction-related industries will need to follow suit.
As we increase the knowledge of those building zero-carbon properties, the cost to build them will come down, enticing more members of the public to ‘go green’.

Existing properties
Here’s where construction companies will see some of the bigger changes in housing regulations. The government wants all homes – including those already in existence – to be more resilient to the changes in the climate, be airtight and ensure that its energy efficiency is excellent.
The committee’s ultimate goal is that by 2025 no new homes will be connected to the gas grid – that they’ll be built with passive cooling and heating technology, be airtight with good air quality and be PassivHaus certified.
For systems companies, fabricators and fitters this translates into more triple glazed products, glazing which includes tinting for South and West-facing windows and more specially designed products such as Liniar’s EnergyPlus90, PassivHaus product. These products are designed to lower the energy a property needs to heat or cool down – and if you’re not already fabricating or installing this product you may be missing out on jobs in the near future.

New build properties
As we heard during the election in December, the UK government proposes that it will build up to 1.5m new homes by 2022 – and the committee recommends that all those new homes be built to an ultra-low or zero-carbon specification. This will ensure they are both water and energy-efficient, but also be able to withstand the rapidly changing climate.
This includes all new homes to be constructed to PassivHaus standards with passive heating and cooling measures and plenty of ventilation whilst also ensuring it uses as little energy as possible. The CCC suggests that this be done ‘as standard’ instead of homeowners having to fork out to make these changes to be compliant after the purchase of the home.

Ahead of the curve
As an industry, we have a reputation of working well ahead of government regulations, ensuring we’re already compliant once they come into practice and zero-carbon property building regs shouldn’t be any different.

Industry-leading systems company Liniar is leading the pack when it comes to products which will meet or exceed the new regulations. Being the first PVCu systems company to design and launch a PassivHaus certified window, the UK’s first EP90, they’re in a good position for the times ahead.

Decide for yourself
Read the full Climate Change Commission’s white paper at https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/UK-housing-Fit-for-the-future-CCC-2019.pdf.

Discover more about Liniar’s EnergyPlus90 range, the first PVCu window to be PassivHaus certified in the UK by visiting https://www.liniar.co.uk/upvc-windows/passivhaus/.

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