Energy regulations: Coming to a home near you

The launch of the new version 10 of the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP10) means that energy regulations are changing. But what does this mean for our buildings?

Energy regulations: Coming to a home near you

As of recently, the new and improved SAP 10 document has been launched which is due to come into effect for England and Wales in the next year when Building Regulations change.

More pressingly, however, the Greater London Authority has just announced that consultants will have to use the new CO2 emission factors from January 2019, and we therefore need to consider how it will affect our buildings now.

So, what does it mean for our buildings?

Though the document has many tweaks, there are a number of changes that prove most significant.

The biggest change is around CO2 emission factors that set out how many kgCO2 per kWh a fuel uses, most notably for electricity which has reduced by 55% based on our grid decarbonisation. This change will mean electricity is likely to become the lowest carbon option for heating.

Lighting inputs have been made more complex to allow for the greater efficiency and variation in LEDs. It will reduce the impact of lighting on energy demand.

Solar power will now have less of a benefit in terms of CO2 emissions saving as it is offsetting cleaner electricity. Also, it can no longer be averaged out across a block of flats or commercial units and can only be applied where it is directly connected to each unit. This means a rooftop system feeding only landlord areas will show no benefit.

The losses assumed on heat networks were often assumed to be 5% in the old SAP. This has now been increased to an assumed 50%. This is likely to mean that heat networks will always be high carbon unless they have guaranteed waste heat available from somewhere.

What could our future buildings look like?

You can assume that any building wanting to exceed Building Regulation compliance will be all-electric, using heat pumps. Technologies which displace gas with electricity, such as heat pumps will have a vastly increased benefit in terms of the reduction.

Gas combined heat and power will no longer be used as it simply too high carbon, plus the air pollution and resistance heating will now be attractive to developers due to its low cost and lower carbon output.

To achieve “zero carbon”, more buildings will turn to the use of heat pumps as opposed to solar power, which as well as providing the usual 10% renewables contribution, could combat the overheating issue seen more frequently in new flats.

Financially, heat pump developments could see developers of typical one or two-bed flats pay a reduced “offset” payment for remaining CO2 emissions where they must be “zero carbon”, from what was typically £1,800 in the old SAP to a payment closer to £600.

The main point is this document should herald the move of our buildings sector to electrification in the same way as we are seeing with vehicles. We have been held back for years by Building Regulations and local policy and it is good to see that beginning to change but there are still some issues which could have been addressed around smart energy management that have been ducked.

This blog was written by Barny Evans, Head of Energy, Waste and Sustainable Places at WSP

Comments (1)

  1. Keiron Shatwell says:

    Question, if I may, regarding the efficiency of Heat Pumps. As they use an electric pump and compressor to extract the heat from whichever medium is being used as the source how efficient are they in real terms? IE how much extra heat can they extract above what is required to operate the pump and compressor in real world conditions (say in London and in Glasgow).

    Especially Air Sourced when the air temperature is zero degrees or below. How much heat do they extract from such cold air and how much is an effect of the pump and compressor running?

    I’m not anti Heat Pump, in fact I strongly support development of Water Source Heat Pumps to tap the warm waters on the West Coast, but I don’t think Air and Ground Source are as efficient and cost effective as they are sometimes made out to be.

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