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Wed Sep 16, 2015

It was hugely disappointing to hear the Government announce over the summer that it will not be proceeding with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions scheme or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy-efficiency standards, as published in the Treasury’s Productivity Plan in July.  Introduced in 2014, the scheme enabled developers to offset carbon emissions through remote measures if on site methods were deemed unsuitable and consequently encouraged major investment in such projects by the construction industry. 

As Europe’s leading provider of energy efficient indoor climate solutions, we are one of a group of forward-thinking companies who are leading the delivery of Passive House in the UK and were naturally supportive of the government’s previous commitment to zero carbon homes, which appeared to be in tune with the aspirations of both the building industry and the low energy targets laid out by the European Union. Passive House now seems to be the only remaining standard available for those wanting to achieve enhanced performance.

Already well established in mainland Europe, the Passive House standard has started to take hold in the UK,  employing the principles of a fabric first approach which focuses on building design to achieve good airtightness levels.  Interestingly, according to the Passivhaus Trust, the independent, non-profit organisation that provides leadership in the UK for the adoption of the Passive House standard and methodology, the most recent trend has been for larger projects, with more units, rather than single residential units – a reflection perhaps of how the notion of Passive House has moved away from being elitist self builder, to those seeking low energy affordable housing for the long term. A good example is the recent 51 unit development by Climate Energy Homes in Rainham, East London’s largest Passive House scheme, for which Zehnder supplied the MVHR ventilation system and which is predicted to see a 3 bedroom energy cost slashed from £1240 per year to just £350!

However, there was one gleam of hope within the Treasury’s plan as it acknowledges that the government “will keep energy efficiency standards under review, recognising that existing measures to increase energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to be established.” Bearing in mind the European Union’s obligations for nearly-zero energy buildings from 2020, it is hoped that they do.

For more information on Zehnder’s energy-efficient indoor ventilation solutions, please click here.

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