Getting the policy frame right to support the UK’s transition to Net Zero
Hywel Lloyd, Government Engagement Manager
One of the challenges writ through the Active Building Centre brief is to help create a long-term, resilient ecosystem of Active Buildings.
A key element of that is to create or encourage the right policy environment, both in terms of ‘hard’ policy features such as regulations or other legal requirements, or ‘soft’ policy features such as a visible presence of Active Building ideas and examples in relevant reports, literature and political critique. In working on both the Active Building Centre is managing an engagement where our contribution is often one that is holistic and cross-cutting while contributing to a policy area that may be more distinct, siloed or stand alone, as is often the nature of public policy and delivery. That always creates the need to highlight relevant benefits, as well as wider opportunities. As one overarching example of that, we have the Active Building Centre’s submission to the recent call for evidence on Residential Energy Efficiency from the Environment Audit Committee (EAC) of the UK Parliament.
Multiple wider benefits
While the call had a specific focus – energy efficiency – there are clearly positive outcomes derived from an holistic Active approach that would give rise to multiple wider benefits, as well as improving energy efficiency of homes. While the latter might start with:
- Higher build standards
- The skills and technology to deliver it
- A greater emphasis on ‘Upgrading’ homes
The former perspective (of a rounded, holistic sustainability improvement from more Active builds) would allow us to capture benefits such as:
- ‘Energy wealth’ (as opposed to fuel poverty) for home owners and occupiers
- Improved local air quality as fossil fuel emissions from gas, LPG or oil based heating systems are reduced or eliminated
- Integrated electric vehicle charging and battery use to ‘fuel’ mobility and energy flexibility, therefore help abolish peak demand
Facilitating parallel thinking
To make the most of these possibilities we would encourage – and could facilitate – a bringing together of a number of recent policy consultations, with these three as examples of parallel thinking that could be more holistic:
- DfT consulting on the use of building regulations (MHCLG policy) to prompt the installation of electric vehicle charge points (A)
- MHCLG-led consultation and review of Part L of the building regulations for housing energy efficiency, in the context of a Future Home Standard for 2025 (B).
- Ofgem led RIIO2-ED process and methodology to determine the business plans for the electricity distribution companies between 2023 – 28.
Active Building Centre and the deployment of Active Buildings sit in the middle of this triumvirate – delivering more efficient building stock, which adds capacity and resilience into the wider energy sector, and integrates with low carbon mobility options. There is clearly scope here for a cross-departmental, systemic approach to delivering an energy system where homes and vehicles are effective in their capture of energy, efficient in their management, and use of energy, set in a grid that delivers the residual energy required to heat and power our homes and vehicles.
This where the Active Building Centre aims to encourage this holistic approach to UK policy that will help to transform construction, deliver a wholly renewable energy system and ultimately support the nation’s transition to Net Zero.
Published Sept 2020