Read more about the discussion topics surrounding carbon efficient homes
Published by Contract Journal
What measures are in place to encourage the development of carbon -efficient homes?
In December 2006, the goverment published its 'Building a greener Future' consultation paper and accompanying code for sustainable homes known as the code. Both documents set out the government's aspirations for moving, through several stepped changes, towards a target of zero carbon housing in all new developments by 2016.
What obligations does the code place on developers?
Presently the Building Regulations, which control the technical performance of new housing projects in England and Wales, place no requirements on developers to build carbon efficient homes unless they are publicly funded, in which case buildings need to be 25% more efficient
So what exactly does the code hope to achieve?
Good question. The latest amendment to the regulations, introduced by a statutory instrument in March 2006, requires developers and builders to achieve greater leverls of thermal efficiency and encourages developers to take advantage of low or zero carbon technology. But as far as regulatory control is concerned, this is as far as the present requirements go.
So is it working so far?
Well, as the code is onlt advisory, so far it seems to have limited mandatory effect as it hads no legal force in its own right. It does, however, set out proposed changes to planning lawand to the requiremnts of the building regulations over the coming years.
What are the Proposed changes?
The code's status may change to be legally binding over time, or more likely, the proposals of the code will be brought into effect in other legislation, not least of which are the building rewgulations. It certainly does seem likely that regulatory requirements will become more stringent over the next 10 years, ultimately reaching zero carbon levels by 2016. By this time, contractors and developers will be obliged to meet the requirements in force at the time.
Will future changes cause problems for developers and contractors?
They shouldnt cause too many problems as commercially aware contractoes know only too well that when entering into a long term arrangement there is always a riskt hat the goal posts may move. It has always been the case that a development needs to comply with the standards required by the building regulations at the time the application for approval is made. On occasion, the requirements of the building regulations at the time of application may be greater than the time the contract was made. Regulatory changes are seldom, if ever, sprung upon an unsuspecting industry, and as consultation periods of several years, are not uncommon before the changes come into force most, if not all, changes are general knowledge within the industry long before thay are in force. This will give developers and contractors plently of time to prepare and price the risk accordingly.
As for the current regulations, can developers legally bind their contractors to build zero carbon homes?
No, as things stand there are no regulatory requirements that a developer can force onto its contractors. The possibility does remain, however, that the regulatory requirements will become more stringent in the future, Should this be the case, it will be up to the developer to specify that the contractorcomploes with the requirements of the contract. This will be a matter for the contractor to commercially consider at the time, but does seem to be little more than an extension of the present risk that all contractors face.
In this case is there anything developers can do in the meantime to encourage their contractors to build more carbon efficient homes?
There would be nothing stopping th parties to a commercial contract from making a deal on this basis, or for a developer to make this a requirement of its contractor. A contractor that didnt want to be bound by these requirements could simply choose not to make the contract