Over the course of two Nearer to Zero events in Cardiff and Llandudno last week, members of the Welsh government and civil service reaffirmed a clear ambition to reach the reduction in CO2 emissions from the housing sector that is mandated in EU legislation.
Welsh Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Planning, Carl Sargeant, explained that although recent announcements indicate that new building regulations will only require an 8% reduction in CO2 emissions, that these were minimum standards to ease the transition of the construction industry towards low-carbon and ensure housing supply, and that the pursuit of much higher standards of sustainability in construction would be actively and rapidly encouraged.
Welsh Minister of Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, was also eager to emphasise the government’s ambition to reduce environmental impacts in Wales, and cited energy efficiency retrofit programmes in the country as a clear example of the Welsh government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions from homes, as well as combatting fuel poverty and boosting the green economy.
Developers of highly sustainable low-energy housing projects in Wales were present, with LivEco and Williams Homes delivering highly informative talks on the practicalities and challenges of building to low-carbon.
England’s Zero Carbon Hub also had a strong presence at both events, with Richard Partington and Ross Holleron delivering an update on the organisations research into the causes and solutions of the significant gap in energy performance that has been identified between the design stage and the built product.
Overall, the events were a strong reminder of the urgency of the need for action both at policy level and on the ground, and were indicative of the appetite in Welsh government and in smaller sectors of the construction industry to see action on the issue of low-carbon building. Challenges to achieving the government’s objective were clearly identified, but so were the positive opportunities and long-term growth and public health benefits that the sector can deliver. Increased familiarity with newer technologies was cited as a major step forwards, but stimulating public demand in low-carbon properties and reducing costs remain significant challenges for the sector in the near future.
The Zero Carbon Hub was delighted to work with the Welsh Low/Zero Carbon Hub and Constructing Excellence Wales in the delivery of the events and the slides from the presentations are available to view here.