Energy efficiency standards for homes to go up

The Government said it would raise energy efficiency standards for UK homes, after undergoing extensive criticism for the previous version of its Code for Sustainable Homes being too limited and voluntary.

The revisions met with a mixed reaction from climate campaigners, who say the code should be made compulsory for it to be truly effective in limiting carbon emissions from buildings.

The revisions make energy efficiency ratings mandatory in both new and existing homes, raising homeowners’ awareness of energy conservation. The code’s lowest levels will be raised above mandatory building regulations.

Elliot Morley, Minister for Climate Change and Environment said: “Reducing emissions through energy efficiency is a crucial part of tackling climate change. I strongly welcome the measures being announced, the strengthening of the Code, and the work in progress.”

But although the revised code makes energy efficiency ratings compulsory, it does not ensure energy efficiency will actually increase. For that to happen, the Code would have to become compulsory, campaigners say.

The Government has just approved new building regulations, which it says raise energy efficiency standards, and these will come into force on 6 April (see related story). But campaigners want the higher standards of the Code for Sustainable Homes to become legally binding.

“We are very pleased that the Government decided to raise the lowest standard of the code,” a spokesperson for the Town and Country Planning Association told edie. “But the Code should be made legally binding by being incorporated into building regulations.”

As building regulations are only revised every three years, this would not happen before 2009. In the meantime, the Government should empower local authorities to enforce the Code, a coalition of NGOs that includes the TCPA, Friends of the Earth and Renewable Energy Association argues.

Additionally, the code still only applies to new homes, the organisations pointed out.

“We hope the final Code will apply not only to new homes, since this will affect just 1 per cent of the entire stock. A strong, mandatory Code will help to stimulate innovation, provide certainty for industry, and create a model for a low-carbon future,” said TCPA director Gideon Amos.

By Goska Romanowicz

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