Minister launches Hub-led project to tackle the performance challenge

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A new project to examine the energy performance of new homes is unveiled today. The industry-backed project brings together leading housebuilders and industry experts to investigate the actual performance of homes and better understand how this compares to that expected by the original design. Communities and Local Government minister Rt Hon Don Foster MP announced a new £380,000 grant for the project, which is led by the Zero Carbon Hub. This funding is matched by contributions from numerous industry organisations. The project known as ‘DvAB’ (Designed v As-Built) will consider the construction process as a whole, from design and planning to testing and verification, gathering evidence of areas where an energy use ‘performance gap’ could occur. Priorities will be established and recommendations for change proposed so that industry can work to ensure that new homes deliver in practice the CO2 emission reductions that they are expected to.

If factors that affect thermal performance are not mitigated and dwellings that use less and less energy for heating and cooling continue to be constructed, any ‘performance gap’ could have a much more pronounced overall effect. In trying to resolve this challenge, improved links and collaboration across industry could help achieve a new high for client and consumer confidence in UK house-building.

Speaking at Ecobuild, Rt. Hon Don Foster MP said:

“Home energy bills are one of the biggest costs that people and families face, especially during a really cold winter such as this one. I want to do everything to cut bills by making homes in this country the most energy efficient possible. From today, government and industry will be working hand in hand to ensure new build homes live up to expectations, and drive energy bills down for consumers.

“The alternative would be further regulation of industry but I do not want to add red tape and financial burdens that would just be passed on to already struggling homebuyers. Instead I want to work with industry to improve standards and performance in practice.”

Neil Jefferson, Chief Executive Zero Carbon Hub said:

“This work is fundamental to everything that the house-building industry is trying to achieve – we need to be able to demonstrate the improvements that we are making and if not, address those things that we know will make a difference. I’m extremely encouraged that even amidst the awaited decisions on Part L of the Building Regulations and the zero carbon policy, there are so many organisations and individuals that recognise the need for this work to take place and that want to be involved.”

Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman HBF said:

“We already know there are likely to be a number of reasons for any gap between designed and actual building performance. As much as anything this project must focus on improving our knowledge of what these factors are so everyone involved from product supplier to the workforce can target necessary actions.”

ENDS

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Notes to Editors

1. The substantial Performance Challenge (DvAB) project is supported by £380k grant funding from DCLG which will industry has pledged to match fund through direct contributions and in-kind support. Cash sponsors to date include:

  • CPA
  • LABC
  • NHBC Foundation
  • Saint-Gobain

2. The Zero Carbon Hub report Carbon Compliance – setting an appropriate limit for zero carbon new homes, published February 2011, recommended that ‘From 2020 the test results distribution should demonstrate that at least 90% of all dwellings would meet or perform better than the designed energy/ carbon performance’.

A leaflet ‘The Performance Challenge’ has been produced to introduce the project.