UK housing: Fit for the future?
On the 21st February 2019, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released their report on whether UK homes are fit for the future in regards to the challenges of climate change.
The CCC were created as an independent, statutory body under the Climate Change Act, to advise governing bodies on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing the UK for climate change.
Last year, the CCC reported on the progress the UK is making to meeting the Carbon Budgets set out in the legally-binding Climate Change Act, aimed at reducing emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. On their website page on monitoring carbon emissions, they state:
To meet future carbon budgets and the 80% target for 2050, the UK will need to reduce emissions by at least 3% a year, from now on. This will require the government to apply more challenging measures.
It is the response to this that has resulted in the CCC publishing their report: UK Housing: Fit for the future?
The CCC findings show that greenhouse gas emissions will need to be nearly completely eliminated from UK buildings and the report calls for the existing housing stock and all new build developments to use low carbon heating solutions, supported by ultra-high levels of energy efficiency and appropriate ventilation. This requirement for low carbon solutions will need to implemented into UK law sooner rather than later to ensure that the UK remains on track to meet the 2030 carbon targets and beyond.
This has caused the report to suggest that from 2025 at the latest, new homes should not be connected to the gas grid. The CCC instead suggest that new homes have low-carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps and low-carbon heat networks, and that developments being built up to this point should be future proofed to allow for easy transition to such technologies when required.
The question is, what replaces these traditional systems when they can no longer be used? There are a number of solutions currently available for designers and specifiers, many of which are being successfully applied today, including electric and heat pump technologies.
The CCC’s recommendations may seem a radical step away from how the construction industry currently operates and we will soon be looking into this report further. However, with Part L, SAP 10 and Part F consultations just around the corner and considering the legality of the targets and the reasons behind why the CC was created in the first place, it is not too early to understand these new technologies or how the future of HVAC specification may look.
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