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Strategic support for energy efficiency and sustainability

Heretics absolved

01/12/2014 12:25:13

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Cutland Consulting Ltd has long advocated that voluntary energy standards must be made attractive to the volume housebuilders if the standards are to have any significant impact in the UK.  Small schemes and enthusiastic self-builds are not enough.  

Unsurprisingly, to some of the ‘deep greens’ this is a controversial view.  Our director Neil Cutland was regularly a voice in the wilderness during his time as a board member of the Passivhaus Trust (although the other board members are to be commended for seeing his views as a 'healthy business tension' rather than an irreconcilable difference!).

Cutland Consulting’s arguably heretical standpoint is twofold:

1.  Energy enthusiasts will never win the argument that a privately-run, voluntary standard – however good it is – must replace the national Building Regulations.  That notion is simply a step too far for Minsters and Civil Servants to contemplate.  The Passivhaus (and other) enthusiasts should instead make the case to Government and industry that their proprietary standard is a guaranteed and cost-effective way of achieving Building Regulations compliance.  In this way the market itself will promote their cause for them. 

2.  Debates about the accuracy of the national calculation methodology, such as the long-running “SAP vs. Passivhaus Planning Package” battle, are unhelpful red herrings.  It’s time to move on.  The lobbyists should now focus instead on the ‘design versus as-built’ battle.  The housebuilding industry agreed to the concept of as-built compliance during the Zero Carbon Hub’s working groups in 2010-2011, and it's only Government who are now backtracking.  For reasons of political expediency, the low-energy evangelists should now be saying that "SAP is actually OK", and going on to make the convincing argument that Passivhaus (and similar) systems provide, to the market, a ready-made and technically robust way of achieving as-built compliance with Building Regulations.    

At Cutland Consulting Ltd we’ve never been frightened of being branded heretics (especially when we think we’re right!).  It was nonetheless gratifying to hear David Adams of Willmott Dixon echoing precisely our views from the platform of the recent Passivhaus Trust conference in Stevenage.  We will happily accept absolution from such a senior figure in the mainstream construction industry.

December 2014

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