DECC respond to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)

As previously publicised, Elmhurst contributed their view on what questions should be posed by the CCC to help keep DECC accountable. Elmhurst posed a number of questions in the summer:

DECC have now posted a response to the questions set by the CCC.

We have taken out the elements that affect buildings and energy efficiency and summarised below.

The recommendations posed by the CCC are:

Buildings: Develop plans and policies that deliver low-carbon heat and energy efficiency, whilst also addressing the increasing risks of heat stress and flooding.

(a) Develop an action plan to address the significant shortfall in low-carbon heat, ensuring a better integration with energy efficiency and fuel poverty. Commit to the Renewable Heat Incentive to 2020, or until a suitable replacement is found.

(b) Set out the future of the Energy Company Obligation beyond 2017, ensuring it delivers energy efficiency while also meeting fuel poverty targets.

(c) Implement the zero carbon homes standard without further weakening, ensuring investment in low-carbon heat.

(d) Introduce a standard to prevent new homes overheating, and promote passive cooling in existing buildings.

The Government suggest that they will have a stable long term framework for energy efficiency; this is in light of all the current polices for energy efficiency being removed, in review or a state of change.


On a positive note DECC state that:

“Reducing emissions from buildings will require improved energy efficiency measures and changes to heating systems in properties. The Government is committed to considering both together through a stable long-term framework which explores the potential role of regulation, and to thinking about them from the perspective of consumers, home-owners, landlords, tenants and industry.”

They continue: “We are currently considering the right long-term framework for the home energy efficiency market, and are working with the building industry and consumer groups on an improved value-for-money approach. The longer-term future of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is part of these considerations. The design of any future schemes beyond ECO, which runs until March 2017, will ensure that we meet our targets for homes insulated while also supporting our commitment to tackle fuel poverty and ensuring good value for money.”

In terms of a commitment to RHI

a single statement sums up that the “Decisions on the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive are a matter for the Spending Review.”

In terms of the removal of the zero carbon standard for new homes, Government again claim that this would have overly burdened the house building industry, indeed stating that they have strengthened the requirements twice in the last parliament (Part L 2010 and Part L 2013).

“As detailed in the Productivity Plan the Government will not implement Zero Carbon Homes. The Zero Carbon Homes standard, in particular the Allowable Solutions carbon off-setting element, would have placed a significant regulatory burden on the house building industry.

In the last Parliament, the Government strengthened the energy efficiency requirements for new homes twice.

The latest change to the energy efficiency requirements only came into force in April 2014 and new homes will continue to be built to these high standards.”

The Government also state that they have to meet the EU buildings directive to make homes zero carbon, so the current change is a delay not a full time removal.

“In regard to energy efficiency standards for new buildings, the Government must also meet its obligations set out in the European Commission’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. As part of this the Government must report to the Commission in 2017 to ensure that UK building standards remain ‘cost optimal’ and that all new buildings are ‘nearly zero energy buildings’ from 2021.”

In terms of overheating the Government identify that this is an important issue, but require more empirical data to make any informed choices and policy decisions:

“Climate change also presents a greater risk of overheating in buildings. We agree with the importance of this issue, as identified by the Committee and supported by the evidence of the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment. We will consider and support research to understand better what an overheating standard might look like and the options to help industry and others address the risks. However, we need to explore further the associated costs and benefits of different options before making a commitment as to how we will reduce the risk.

Improved research is an important element of meeting the wider goal of addressing the risk of overheating. Passive cooling is another element but should not be the only focus. More broadly, the Government has supported work by the Zero Carbon Hub to tackle overheating in homes with a view to deciding what the next steps should be in addressing overheating risk in new dwellings.”

Elmhurst welcomes the responses to the questions raised, many of these were covered in our questions sent to CCC. The sooner we have long term goals, strategies and policies that give everyone confidence the better. As recent announcement have been made over lack of confidence in the UK markets, we strongly implore that DECC announce the policies for energy efficiency as soon as they can. The strategies must be long term and consistent.

The full paper can be found here.

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