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#BRISTAN BULLETIN: Specifying for Energy Efficiency in New Homes

This week, the UK became the first major economy to commit to reaching “net zero” emissions by 2050. Now that the law has been passed in parliament and ambitious targets set, how does the housebuilding sector ensure that all new homes are 2050 ready?
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) states that 18% of UK carbon emissions come from buildings, most of them homes. It has also been suggested that the country is likely to need a complete decarbonisation of our building stock by 2050, to compensate for other difficult to decarbonise sectors, such as transport.

In 2006, the government introduced the Code for Sustainable Homes, against which new home homes could be rated, and committed that from 2016 all new homes built would be ‘zero carbon’. However, in 2015 this was abandoned despite support by industry and the third sector.

More recently, The Energy Saving Trust proposed a new national 2050-ready new-build homes policy to ensure carbon targets within the sector were met, while also enabling the build of 250,000 new homes per year to address the ‘broken housing market’.

Though domestic heating is highlighted as one of the most pressing issues in terms of complete decarbonisation for the sector, homes that are built to be water efficient also have a significant role to play. We know that saving water can curb energy bills for homeowners but perhaps most importantly, water saving will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using less energy to pump, heat and treat the water. Did you know that heating water for use in homes makes up about 4% the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions?

So how can contractors who specify products for new homes ensure that they are supporting the governments ambitions to become zero carbon by 2050?

The updates to Part G of the Building Regulations, designed to deliver smart water homes, stipulates that in new dwellings the maximum allowable consumption of potable water is 125 litres per person a day. It has been reported that the average consumption 150 litres the average consumption, and so the legislation requires a decrease in consumption of around 25 litres.
The challenge for contractors is to find products that will enable water savings without compromising on performance or requiring homeowners to make drastic changes to their behaviour.

An easy way to identify sustainable fittings, is to look for WRAS Approved products. WRAS approval means that a product is fully compliant with the requirements of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws, which means they are of an appropriate quality and standard and do not contribute to waste, misuse, undue consumption or contamination of the water supply. This is all added peace of mind that the fixtures are legally sound and of good quality.
Optional flow regulators on taps and showers that limit the flow inside the connection can also help to optimise water efficiency. Typically, most standard showers distribute a shower flow rate of 13.5 litres per minute, while flow regulated showers can offer a rate of 10 litres per minute respectively. Similarly, a standard basin tap running at mains pressure can easily deliver in excess of twelve litres per minute. In comparison, flow regulated basin taps can limit flow rate to as little as two litres per minute. And although these options can translate to significant water savings over the year, the difference in the product performance is barely noticeable.

The Energy Saving Trust believes that energy efficiency will be the most-effective long-term guarantee of a low-carbon emission housing stock and as part of that, low water use fittings will help to reduce energy demand associated with hot water. This low water demand of our future homes could also support the building of more new homes, without impacting on communities and their water supply.

For more information about our energy efficient and water saving products, speak to your local specification manager
A picture of Bristan Design Utility Bath Shower Mixer and Thermostatic Mixing Valve