Changes to Part L of the Building Regulations and the upcoming Future Homes Standard (FHS) are bringing in improved standards that address the issue of energy efficiency in new builds, but when it comes to existing housing stock, plans are lacking.

In a new report, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) argues that the planning system has significant potential to improve energy efficiency in UK homes, but it is currently falling short.

What does the CCC report say?

Spatial Planning for Climate Resilience and Net Zero, argues that retrofit programmes could be better coordinated with infrastructure upgrades to facilitate low-carbon heating installations. Planning policies should leverage development opportunities to require space for future heat pumps, solar panels, and other green technologies.

For example, permitted development rules for home extensions should mandate leaving room for a heat pump or making it easy to add solar panels later. This “futureproofing” prevents homeowners from inadvertently modifying their home in ways that preclude low-carbon heating retrofits down the road.

The report makes over twenty recommendations, including improved guidance for local authorities, embedding climate considerations throughout decision-making and boosting funding, resources and capacity across the planning sector, concluding that the UK planning system must be urgently reformed to play its full role in delivering national climate change targets. 

ECA calls for joined up retrofit programmes 

The Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) has spoken out in support of the report. 

Luke Osborne, ECA’s Energy and Emerging Technologies Advisor, said the lack of joined-up national policy and funding prevents local councils from properly delivering key low-carbon projects. 

He warned that without strategic incentives and consumer education, the UK would fall short of its target of a 78% emissions reduction by 2035 and net zero by 2050.

To combat energy loss in homes, the ECA is calling on the government to take the following measures:

  • Promote air-to-air heat pumps as suitable for retrofit in older buildings.
  • Expand the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to cover the installation of low carbon heating devices
  • Adopt the CLC’s national retrofit strategy
  • Establish an effective home insulation scheme.

Would changes to the planning system impact you?

With the right planning framework in place, the CCC argues that we could seize ‘golden opportunities’ to decarbonise building stock. 

Heating installers know first-hand the challenges of retrofitting older homes with new low-carbon technologies. Could planning policies that anticipate the installation of green tech during renovations make your job easier in the future? 

Want to update your skills for the future of heat? 

View our energy efficiency and renewables training courses:

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