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Policy update from CE National – November 3rd 2023

Office for National Statistics highlight stalling progress on greening homes

On Wednesday (1 November), the Social Market Foundation released a response to new ONS figures on energy efficiency ratings of English and Welsh homes that show a slowdown in the uptake of heat pumps and insulation. The figures show 68% of new EPC registrations in England are still heating with mains gas, with only 12% heating through electricity. Niamh O’Regan of the Social Market Foundation commented: “What’s notable in this year’s release is that progress towards the decarbonisation and electrification of home heat is stalling and, in some cases, going backwards. The percentage of new build homes using renewable heating (including heat pumps) has dropped and the change in the existing stock is barely noticeable. By 2030 the UK is supposed to have reduced its emissions by 68%, and we cannot get there without addressing our heating. Today’s figures show that we are well off track.”

Department for Business and Trade publishes case study on retrofitting in housing

On Monday (30 October), the Department for Business and Trade published a case study on the Retrofitting in Housing demonstrator tested on the Isle of Wight, which aimed to “empower retrofitting companies and third sector organisations with accurate, data-driven mechanisms to quickly identify homeowners eligible for funding programmes”. The Department claims that the various pilots were well received and offer a “scalable solution to be deployed nationally”.

Building control changes for higher-risk buildings and wider changes to building regulations

On Tuesday (31 October) the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities circulated a letter with local government, fire and rescue authorities and approved inspectors to raise awareness of the recently published regulations under the Building Safety Act 2022. The regulations deliver on recommendations made in the Hackitt Report and cover the technical detail underpinning the new, more stringent regime for the design and construction of higher-risk buildings.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities confirms second tranche of leasehold reform

On Sunday (29 October) the Sunday Times revealed the Department’s intentions for leasehold reform in England and Wales at the upcoming King’s Speech. This includes ensuring all new houses are sold on a freehold basis, overhauling the process of extending leases and capping existing ground rents to a ‘peppercorn’ rate. The Department is expected to run a consultation process alongside the Bill in a matter of weeks.

Pilot Project to Cut Defects

CLC is running a pilot project on a scheme developed by the contractors’ umbrella body ActuateUK to tackle project defects at source with the long-term aim of removing the need for payment retentions. It takes previously successful data gathering schemes used to address health & safety concerns and late payment as its inspiration with a similar focus on using anonymous data to tackle the root causes of our defects ‘culture’. Both these earlier schemes produced tangible results and had a profound impact on the prevailing culture.

Clients and contractors are invited to take part in the pilot by sharing their project data, which is non-attributed and will help to build up a picture of why defects come about and how we can set about eliminating them. Defects will be collected from completion certificates using processes developed by the Get It Right Initiative (GIRI). They are compared and rationalised against the overall value of the contract to enable comparison between projects and produce a score that can be used to evaluate a solution. Please use this link to submit your data.

Alternative Binder Systems for Lower Carbon Concrete – Code of Practice

The Green Construction Board’s Low Carbon Concrete Group, working with industry, has helped to create and develop a BSI Flex Standard for Lower Carbon Concrete. The BSI Flex is available to download here.  As this is a version 1, it is also available for public comment until 30th November 2023 on the standards development portal and we invite you to leave any comments here.

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