Oct 25, 2021

Heat and buildings strategy – 2 key points

Many organisations have already commented on the “Heat and Buildings Strategy” released last week [1, 2].  Rather than repeat criticisms or otherwise for the strategy, we take a look at two key points which should aid people working in the built environment.

EPC’s are here to stay

The strategy sets out it’s intention for continued use of EPC / SAP methodology, albeit with a plan to upgrade the methodology.  This is important because there are various calls for a different system of assessing energy efficiency which may lead to confusion for strategy developers and hence inaction.  This declaration of intent takes some of the confusion out of what strategy developers should aim for, at least for the near future.  For all its faults, we think that the SAP methodology is pretty good.  For example, historically, as average SAP of homes has increased, the per capita domestic CO2 has decreased [3].  Also, the SAP rating is based on cost of heating the home.  This means that, as well as low carbon, energy efficient homes measured in this way are low cost to run.  The opposite is not always true.  Some low carbon homes are expensive to run.

The strategy lists other reasons for continuing the use of EPC/SAP methodology.

  • Already in use for Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) regulations; fuel poverty strategy;
  • The degree of accuracy has increased over time
  • SAP 11 is already being worked on for use in building regulations (SAP 9.93 is the current version and SAP 10 is due out “soon”)

Updates to SAP/EPC will include:

  • Improved accuracy
  • Incorporating smart and flexible technologies
  • Supporting actions to reduce energy use in buildings
  • Use of actual measured performance of larger more complex buildings
Fuel costs changes

The strategy states that,” We will ensure that price incentives are fair, continue to address fuel poverty, and help achieve Net Zero” and that, “heat pumps will be no more expensive to buy and run than gas boilers.”

One of the ways Government will be seeking to achieve this is by addressing distortions in energy prices.  The strategy announces the intent to “launch a Fairness and Affordability Call for Evidence on options to shift or rebalance energy levies and obligations over this decade.”

This is very important, especially if the results of any levy changes end up informing SAP ratings.  It could mean that changing gas boilers for heat pumps may improve SAP ratings, which is not always the case at the moment.

Final word

There is lots more in the strategy and lots of other energy strategies emerging.  If you’d like to ensure that your environmental strategies align with Government policy, please be in touch.

 

[1] Heat and Buildings Strategy: UK Gov

[2] Organisational Comment: UKGBC

[3] SAP vs Carbon: SHIFT

[4] Photo Credit: Sander Weeteling