Foreword - Nick Hayes, Managing Director, BRE
The UK emitted more than 151 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2006. Nearly half of these emissions came from the energy used in buildings and more than a quarter from the energy used to heat, light and power our homes. In order to reduce this consumption and the associated environmental impacts, we must implement a targeted approach to improving every aspect of the development process, from planning, design and specification through to product manufacture, construction, operation and demolition.
EU and UK government policies play a crucial role in enforcing compliance and setting immediate and long-term goals. Under Part L of the Building Regulations introduced in April 2006, buildings must be constructed to new performance standards that are estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% against 2002 design standards. The regulations also encourage the use of sustainable energy sources, and over 100 local authorities are already insisting on 10% from renewables in plans for all new developments. Such measures work to prepare the industry for meeting the large-scale demand that will arise when standards tighten further in 2011 and 2016.
Additional sustainable development initiatives include the Department for Communities and Local Government's Code for Sustainable Homes and two consultation documents on zero carbon development and planning. Based on the BRE1
EcoHomes environmental assessment scheme, the Code for Sustainable Homes came into effect in April 2007 and introduces a points system for lifetime homes incorporating security and zero carbon technologies. It also sets mandatory performance levels for energy and water efficiency, site and household waste and use of materials.
The two consultation documents outline further measures required in order for the UK to meet its carbon emissions commitment under Kyoto. Building a Greener Future: Towards a Zero Carbon Development sets out a timetable for moving towards zero carbon housing that is reiterated in the subsequent policy statement confirming the Government's intention for all new homes to be zero carbon by 20162
. Moreover, Planning Policy Statement: Planning and Climate Change addresses the effectiveness of current policy, its impact on climate change and on shaping sustainable communities, suggesting areas for focus and clarification.
There is already evidence that the industry is responding to the challenges of climate change. The UK Green Building Council was established in 2007 to bring cohesion to the green building movement and help provide clear direction on sustainability for the sector3
. Furthermore, 2008 sees the introduction of an energy labelling scheme for buildings (and their internal systems) so that each structure will be assessed and differentiated in terms of its environmental and energy performance. The ranking and rating of performance, coupled with growing CSR reporting requirements, is likely to have a profound effect on the asset value of buildings. In short, no organisation will want to compromise its brand equity or corporate positioning in occupying a badly rated building.
Perhaps the most interesting outcome of recent changes to policy and regulations, however, is their effect on the industry as a whole. Delivering climate adaptive/responsive buildings is significantly more challenging than creating traditional, highly serviced, climate-excluding structures. Greater care and co-ordination is required during construction, commissioning and operation to deliver optimum building performance. Architects and engineers can no longer work in isolation; they are an integral part of a multi-disciplinary team that undertakes key design and specification decisions from the outset. Essentially, this is the only way to deliver intelligent and innovative buildings that have the lowest possible environmental impact.
The BRE Group is a world-leading research, consultancy, training, testing and certification organisation, delivering sustainability and innovation across the built environment and beyond
2 www.communities.gov.uk/publications/ planningandbuilding/building-a-greener