Will 2016 carbon commitments stifle the capacity of small building firms?
On Tuesday, new changes to Part L were announced in Parliament. They call for a nine per cent improvement on 2010 standards for non-domestic projects and a six per cent cut to carbon emissions for new build homes – two per cent less than the eight per cent cut originally planned.
These long-awaited changes to Part L have been met with a mixed response: RIBA warns of ‘uphill struggle to meet zero carbon commitments by 2016’. This sentiment was echoed by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) who argued that the new standards are too weak and would limit the need for properties to install on-site renewable energy technologies.
The Federation of Master Builders take a different view, stating that the government has gone too far. The FMB is worried how the new Part L will impact on small building firms. They believe that the standards are too stringent and that unrealistic expectations could the stifle the economic capacity of many smaller firms to build homes, thereby squeezing them from the market. Brian Berry, the Chief Executive of the FMB, warned: “FMB surveys of house-builders indicate the cost implications for smaller developments will be significantly above those estimated by the Government’s impact assessments.
“In a still fragile housing market, in which homebuyers are not prepared to pay the extra for energy efficiency, these extra costs will continue to come off the bottom line of builders, threatening the viability of many developments and further hindering hopes of a boost in housing supply. Smaller house-builders without large banks of prior planning consents will be hit first by these changes.”
One thing that all parties agree on is that the government’s announcements were thin on the specifics of how these targets could be achieved. A formal impact assessment is still yet to be published, leaving many wondering exactly how government calculated that changes to Part L will save businesses more than £60,000 and homes £200 a year compared to build standards before 2010.