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Why the Building Trade Needs to Go Passivhaus/Carbon Neutral

This week we invited Savoo to write an article about how the building trade can help with reducing the nation’s Co².

Savoo® is the next generation in voucher websites, where only live and verified deals and codes are maintained by a proactive deal team that pride themselves on giving visitors the best choice of offers from recognised merchants.

Reducing the nation’s Co² emissions is at the forefront of government policy at the moment, with a key aim to end fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010 and for all households by 2016. According to government targets, newly built homes will also need to be carbon neutral by 2016.

This change can only be achieved if all parties, including homeowners, those within the building trade and government departments, work in partnership to commit to energy efficient practices. A recent research report compiled by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) identified ‘the quantity and quality of new build housing’ as a key factor in reducing the 27% of the UK’s total carbon emissions that can be attributed solely to households.

In addition to this, the RICS report highlighted the following ways that homes can be made more energy efficient, all of which can be led by the building trade:

• Loft and cavity wall insulation

If everyone in the UK installed 270mm loft insulation, we could save nearly £500 million – and 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, the equivalent of taking nearly 100,000 cars off the road.

• Solid wall insulation

Internal insulation will save around £445 a year and 1.8 tonnes of Co². External insulation should save around £475 a year and 1.9 tonnes of Co².

• Replacement of older boilers with more energy efficient models

Replacing an old gas boiler with an A-rated high-efficiency condensing boiler could save homeowners as much as £300 a year and 1,220kg of Co².

• More efficient appliances and lights

If you replace a traditional light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb of the same brightness, you will typically save around £3 per year, or £55 over the life of the bulb.

Choosing an A+ rated appliance will also create significant savings. For instance, an A rated 180-litre fridge freezer could cost only £36 a year to run, whereas a larger 525-litre fridge freezer with a better A+ rating would cost £49 a year to run.

Government policy

A Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) consultation paper entitled Heat and Energy Saving Strategy confirmed that it is “considering working with representatives of the building trade to design a voluntary
Code of Practice on energy efficiency and low carbon energy.”

The government has also altered building regulations to ensure that extensions and conversions will be required to meet higher standards of energy efficiency from the 1st October.

The DECC argue that this is expected to save two million tonnes of Co² per year by 2020, and could cut household energy bills by £100 per year.

Using Passivhaus as a model

Germany and Switzerland have already led the way in ultra-low energy buildings that have minimal carbon footprints. The Passivhaus (Passive House) standard for energy efficiency in a building, where a structure requires very little space for heating and cooling, has already been rolled out in German-speaking countries and Scandinavia. The movement is also beginning to have a presence in other parts of the EU and the US.

According to the Passive House standard, total primary energy (source energy for electricity and etc) consumption (primary energy for heating, hot water and electricity) must not exceed 120 kWh/m² per year. If we compare this to an average detached home, at 453 kWh/m² per year, this is a significant saving.

Ultimately, with a 181% increase in gas prices over the last decade, coupled with electricity increases that have been as much as 109%, the building trade could play an integral role in helping consumers make costs savings.

Kate Knight writes for Savoo.co.uk , the money saving, voucher code and destination site for savvy shoppers.