COP, Future Homes and Self Build
(Image: SEE Monster)
A commitment to limit global temerature rise to 1.5 degrees is looking a bit shaky. At COP, the UK government pledged to provide assistance to poorer nations and to stop burning coal for electricity generation by 2024.
Of greater interest to us is the planned implementation of low carbon heating systems to all new properties from 2035. To achieve this the government has created a £3.9 billion decarbonisation fund including a much publicised £450 million grant for boiler upgrades that has polarised around the pros and cons of heat pumps. This is a component of Boris's 10 Point Plan to enable a Green Industrial Revolution that has resonance with many other areas of legislation including the The Planning Act (since derailed) and the Future Homes (Building) Standard which comes into effect via changes to Part L and F of the Building Regulations from March 2022. This is going to have a positive impact on building performance and may even engender design innovation despite initial industry concerns to the contrary; we will see.
But looking around we don't see much urgency and indeed developers have a dispensation for whom it will be business as usual on many housing sites - more boxes 'built by accountants' as a government spokesperson recently referred to them. As an industry geared to price rather than quality (we regularly condemn insulation as it's installation is considered an after thought) there appears little appetite for new ways. Better buildings are in reality those better policed and the UK has a love affair with the cavity wall which is unlikely to save us from catastrophe. In this regard the government's recent endorsement of Custom and Self Build (CSB) is welcomed. Grants are to be made available for funding and LPA's already maintain registers of land and potential self-builders. In August the Bacon Review, 'House' was published and further supports CSB given it is seen to ecourage diversity and choice and is recognised to promote greener homes.
It also puts forward recommendations to amend planning policy to facilitate land availability.
This is an opportunity for Architects and we at OWLA have built our own houses and helped others to build theirs - in 2022 we intend to build another. Call us if we can help you - it is a life affirming thing to do.