On Thursday, July 3 the Assembly’s Environment, Sustainability and Housing Minister Jane Davidson revealed plans which would force developers to improve the environmental performance of new buildings and include renewable and low carbon energy technologies such as solar panels and combined heat and power.

In recognition of the fact that most energy used in the built environment is used by existing homes and work buildings, the Assembly has also published an advice booklet to help householders cut fuel bills.

Ms Davidson said: “Rising fuel bills affect us all – and these two steps by the Assembly Government are practical ways forward to help keep costs down and reduce our carbon footprint.

The Improving your Home – A Climate Change Guide gives practical carbon and bill cutting advice to people making improvements to their homes, such as building conservatories or converting lofts into extra living space.

“It will help make existing homes more fuel efficient and more resilient to the effects of climate change and rising fuel costs.”

The proposed planning guidance sets minimum national standards for the sustainability of buildings and for the incorporation of renewable and low carbon energy technologies.

This makes Wales is the first country to attempt to use the planning system to set such standards.

The proposed policies would expect a minimum standard for homes based on the Code for Sustainable Homes, and on the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Scheme (BREEAM) for other buildings.

This standard will initially be set at Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 for housing and BREEAM ‘Very Good’ for other buildings. It is intended that the policy will commence in April 2009.

Sam Bond

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