BSRIA’s Tassos Kougionis outlines the progress made in creating more energy efficient buildings, including the recommendations made in the Bonfield review
On December 2016, the government published the ‘Each Home Counts, An Independent Review of Consumer Advice, Protection, Standards and Enforcement for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’ report led by Dr Peter Bonfield, Chief Executive of the BRE Group. The report, aka the Bonfield review, focuses on existing homes’ energy efficiency improvements and sets a vision for a more efficient and streamlined approach to be followed to deliver the targets required. The 65-page report, also supported by BSRIA, is the result of a joint effort by both public and private stakeholders. As stated in the report, 170 stakeholders from across the sector were brought together and supported by evidence provided by around 410 organisations and individuals, while around 200 meetings and workshops were held.
BSRIA recognises that substantial progress has been made in the energy efficiency of buildings, especially since 2006 after which date the Approved Document L kept continuously improving to deliver buildings of higher quality and energy performance. A number of incentives and schemes have been set up by government to deliver energy efficiency retrofit opportunities and increase the contribution of renewables, including the introduction of ECO, the Green Deal, the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Feed in Tariffs. In support of concerted action, the EU published a number of European Directives such as the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Energy Labelling Directive and Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. These set out targets and processes to improve the energy efficiency of both new and existing residential properties across the EU and most of them have been transposed to UK national policies and regulations. Some initiatives targeting the consumer have also been set up on both local and national levels offering advice and information in regards to home energy improvements, guidelines, technical requirements and advice on financing options. Nevertheless, achieving high take-up of energy efficient residential retrofit and delivering it to high standards has proven challenging.
Issues identified as contributing to this low take-up include lack of consumer engagement, limited consumer protection, lack of understanding of technical requirements and solutions, problems with the industry’s skills and knowledge and fragmentation of the delivery supply chain. It is also recognised that the sheer number of existing standards and the lack of transparency on assessment of solutions recommended by providers has confused the consumer and created a lack of trust.
Picking up on some of these challenges, the Bonfield review looks into, and offers recommendations on, nine fields of interest. These are:
- Consumer Protection;
- Advice and Guidance;
- Quality and Standards;
- Skills and Training;
- Compliance and Enforcement;
- Insulation and Fabric, Smart Meters;
- Home Energy Technologies; and
- Application to Social Housing.
The report also recommends the development and introduction of a quality mark for the domestic retrofit sector, a view that BSRIA welcomes.
Developing and delivering quality marks is not an easy task and will require a collaborative effort from experts in the field. We see ourselves playing an active role in informing and supporting the development of standards through our unparalleled understanding of installation, commissioning, testing and performance of buildings. Having successfully developed the Soft Landings framework, we continue to research and offer solutions to challenging technical and process-based construction issues. We also actively advise and take action helping and supporting consumers, industry and government in making buildings better. Our vision is to be leaders for the information, knowledge and improvement for the built environment.
Touching upon another topic, that of new homes, BSRIA believes that careful consideration should be given to quality and energy efficiency standards for new homes, so we don’t face similar retrofitting issues for these properties in the future. With high volumes of new homes expected to be delivered in the next couple of years, BSRIA will work with public and private stakeholders offering support and advice in delivering the resilience and high quality of construction required from the new homes. We believe this will not only support the achievement of high energy efficiency targets but will also increase consumers’ awareness and understanding leading to a more informed and engaging consumer group in the future.
Principal Consultant – Residential
BSRIA Sustainable Construction Group