London to cut emissions with radically green building regs

London's new developments will have to generate 20% of their own energy from renewables as the capital radically revises its development plan to cut carbon emissions, Mayor Ken Livingstone announced this week.

While new developments in London are already required to generate 10% of their energy from onsite renewables, revisions to the city’s long-term development strategy, known as the London Plan, double this requirement to 20%.

Other revisions include statutory carbon cut targets of 20% by 2015 and 60% by 2050 from a 1990 base, and radical changes to the city’s development, energy and transport policies. This is the first time that legally binding targets have been set for London, the Mayor said.

On energy, the draft strategy reiterates a commitment to expanding the use of decentralised energy – combined heat, power and cooling systems that use renewable energy, and which radically reduce carbon emissions. Retrofitting existing buildings with renewable and energy-saving technologies, as well as introducing incentives to drive down their costs, are also on the agenda.

Speaking at a press conference at London’s City Hall on Tuesday, the Mayor said: “The new policies I am publishing today set tough but deliverable targets for reducing our carbon emissions. We must move our cities away from relying on inefficient centralised heat and power generation, and stop constructing buildings that waste heat and electricity.

“In London we want to see the widespread use of decentralised energy, the highest standards of green building design and renewable energy incorporated wherever we can. In London I am proposing a challenging new target for our developers and planners.”

The capital is both particularly vulnerable to the flooding, heat waves and water shortages that are likely to intensify with the onset of climate change, and a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

Commercial and domestic buildings contribute around three quarters of London’s CO2 emissions, justifying the tough stance on building regulations in the revised London Plan. The plan’s impact on existing buildings must remain limited, however, the draft document acknowledges.

“The London Plan can exercise only limited influence upon behaviour and upon the use of existing buildings, but it will strongly influence the way in which new development responds to the need for mitigation and adaptation,” it reads.

But with London’s housing stock set to grow substantially over the next 15 years, regulating new build is important. The number of households is expected to increase from 3.1m in 2001 to 3.4m, to provide for an estimated 800,000 extra inhabitants by 2016, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Ken Livingstone said: “London should lead the way in showing the world how one of its greatest cities is planning to meet the challenges of climate change. We have already succeeded through the London Plan in introducing a target of 10% carbon reductions through on-site renewable energy generation and I would like to congratulate those developers and planners who have responded positively to this challenge.

“In more and more cases we are meeting – and sometimes exceeding – the existing policy requirements but we still need to do much more.

The Draft Further Alterations to the London Plan document will now undergo consultation with London authorities, followed by a public consultation in the autumn.

Further information on the London Plan and the proposed changes can be found at the Mayor of London’s website.

Goska Romanowicz

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