Insulation, insulation, insulation

'Carbon appeal' is set to replace 'kerb appeal' when it comes to new builds says Builder & Engineers’ Holly Squire

With new research showing that 47% of Brits would snub a house if it didn’t have a new boiler and 27% would reject a property without insulation, it’s clear that energy efficiency is more important now than ever before.

With reports of the property market improving, experts predict 2014 will see a record surge of homes going on sale. But despite the blossoming market, insight from npower reveals 79% of new homebuyers will only make an offer if the property is energy efficient.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, energy saving improvements such as a new boiler or loft and wall insulation could increase a home’s value by 14% and, in some parts of England, as much as 38%.

The Government has set targets for new-build housing to be zero carbon from 2016 and as the industry approaches this ambitious standard, design teams and house builders will be required to deliver new housing projects to increasing levels of energy efficiency as the Building Regulations ramp up over the next five years.

There are three core requirements which must all be met for a home to qualify as zero carbon:

1. The fabric performance must, at a minimum, comply with the defined standard known as the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES)
2. Any CO2 emissions that remain after consideration of heating, cooling, fixed lighting and ventilation, must be less than or equal to the Carbon Compliance limit established for zero carbon homes
3. Any remaining CO2 emissions, from regulated energy sources (after requirements 1 and 2 have been met), must be reduced to zero.

The zero carbon homes standard will require house builders to decrease all carbon emissions from energy arising from fixed heating and lighting, hot water and other fixed building services (eg ventilation) in new homes, though it does not include carbon emissions from appliances or ‘white goods’.

The government believes that substantial and cost-effective reductions in carbon emissions from buildings are an essential part of our national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% on 1990 levels by 2050.

In 2012, the residential sector accounted for about a quarter of emissions, so action to tackle emissions from both new and existing buildings will be critical to achieve this target and to the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The Zero Carbon Hub’s Carbon Compliance report sets out an industry recommended target for the house building industry that by 2020 at least 90% of all dwellings would meet or perform better than the designed energy/carbon performance.

This is in the light of evidence from a number of studies which suggest that there is a significant gap between designed and completed building or, as-built (post-completion) performance. As a result of this, the Zero Carbon Hub has instituted a major work programme with the industry, which the government has supported financially with a grant, to investigate and address the issues.

Phil Spencer, TV Property Expert, believes that energy-efficient building methods can help to add value and will give you a better chance of a quick sale.

“We all know having an energy efficient home can lower bills and save money and in a turbulent market, new home owners are now considering every aspect of a house before making an offer,” he says.

Furthermore, new research published by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) has shown 53% of householders would be willing to pay an extra £3,350 for a home with greener features.

And 70% of buyers would negotiate down the price of the house if it doesn’t have a new boiler, loft and wall installation.

“Energy efficient homes can save up to £325 a year and in this competitive market, an energy efficient home is a real selling point and one that will soon become a standard requirement, adds Simon Stacey, director, energy services at npower.

So it’s clear that the requirement for energy efficient building methods is set to increase – with demand not only from the government, but also from buyers and the industry alike.