Touchwood Homes

Eco Homes Now! …Why not?

On Wednesday 18th of March 2020 Radio Four‘s Costing the Earth series presented  “Eco-homes Now!”, looking at the energy efficiency and quality of new build homes in the UK today.

It made for quite shocking listening to learn that The Zero Carbon Home regulations were introduced into legislation by the Labour government in 2008 with a goal that all new build homes would meet its standards by 2016, and that this legislation was then subsequently scrapped!

Radio Four‘s Costing the  Earth series presented  “Eco-homes Now!”
Radio 4’s Costing the Earth show examines the energy efficiency of new build homes in the UK

The reason for it being revoked was because it was not popular with many of the big players within the volume house building industry, who lobbied the Conservative Government against it since it was introduced.

It would of course have incurred initial extra cost to accommodate the standards required, these are costs which do initially balance out, but the build costs are higher in the first instance and this was what they were unhappy with.

With the Government being under pressure to provide many more homes to accommodate our growing population, and the volume house builders not being happy to comply with the legislation as set out, the Zero Carbon Homes Regulations were abandoned as a first move when the Conservative party took control from the coalition government in 2015.

The reason for it being revoked was because it was not popular with many of the big players within the volume house building industry, who lobbied the Conservative Government against it since it was introduced.

It would of course have incurred initial extra cost to accommodate the standards required, these are costs which do initially balance out, but the build costs are higher in the first instance and this was what they were unhappy with.

With the Government being under pressure to provide many more homes to accommodate our growing population, and the volume house builders not being happy to comply with the legislation as set out, the Zero Carbon Homes Regulations were abandoned as a first move when the Conservative party took control from the coalition government in 2015.

The programme then goes on to look at the build standards that are currently in place and how true they are to the energy ratings that they are given. All new homes are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate, (EPC). An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. See https://www.gov.uk/buy-sell-your-home/energy-performance-certificates for more details.

Currently build ratings are calculated by computer modeling of how a home might perform, rather than actually testing the homes as they are being built and after being built.

Using thermal imaging on a ‘B rating new build home’, Costing the Earth’s investigative team discover many areas of cold air seeping in to the home throughout the entire building, directly through gaps and failing areas of insulation in the walls, windows and doors and calculate that the energy efficiency of the actual building falls far short of the rating it has actually been labelled.

The Government is currently consulting on the ‘2020 Future homes standard’ which sets the bar far lower than the Zero Carbon standard that we should have had in place by now, to which we have added our thoughts.

Touchwood Homes is a small family run business and we embarked on our first Passivhaus build project in 1996. Since then we have never looked back. For the UK ‘volume house builders’ to argue that the zero carbon standards are an unrealistic goal, when we have been achieving these ourselves for a quarter of a century, is simply untrue!

We feel that there is no need to create yet another standard, ‘Passivhaus’ is a globally recognised standard that is tried and tested and proven to work, so why not simply just implement that?

It makes no sense at all to continue building poorly performing homes that waste energy and contribute to CO2 emissions, and the subsequent climate change that this contributes to. Recent flooding and storms should be enough evidence for all of us to say that we need real change in the house building industry, right now.

The homes that we build are build to exacting standards and rigorously tested on site on their performance throughout the build process and beyond completion to ensure that they meet the highest energy efficiency levels possible, with our highest achieving home, ‘Red Bluff’ in Andover having attained Passivhaus + accreditation in 2017.

If you are looking to protect our climate and live in a truly energy efficient quality built home, then Touchwood Homes are the expert home builders that you need to talk to!