Mandatory energy efficiency target for new homes to be considered by York Council

The York Council is set to ask the government to set high standards of insulation for new home built over the next decade. A meeting on 6th January will consider proposed changes to building regulations for new homes.

York Council report

The government sees a choice between either a 20% or 31% reduction in carbon emissions from new homes. Both options would see higher thermal insulation  standards linked typically with triple glazing and minimal heat loss from walls, ceilings and roofs, plus a waste water heat recovery system.  

The higher standard is achieved by mandating the installation of Photovoltaic cells on roofs (They convert sunlight to electricity).

Strangely both options being presented by Council officials involve the use of gas boilers. Gas boilers are the largest source of carbon currently emitted in the City.

The major benefits would come from heat pumps, a waste water heat recovery system, triple glazing and minimum standards for walls, floors and roofs that significantly limit any heat loss.

The report fails to provide any background financial information. The higher specifications will significantly increase building costs.

In turn that will knock on into purchase or rent costs.

The expectation is that energy costs will also reduce. Maintenance costs for the equipment are not fully tested (the achilles heel of some of the micro wind powered micro generators that were popular a few years ago).

Sadly, without a frank assessment of financial implications and the beginning of a campaign aimed at selling the options to future house purchasers, progress in getting public support for the plans  is likely to be harder than it otherwise might have been the case.

Still credit to the Council for at least putting their likely responses to this government consultation into the public domain.

High rise fire risk worries in York

The York Council says that it does not know whether there are any private sector flats in York which may have an increased fire risk of the type that led to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Although Council owned properties have been inspected and given a clean bill of health, the Council does not hold any information on approximately 40% of similar properties in the private sector.

The anomaly comes because these developments were supervised by private sector “Approved Inspectors” rather than the Councils own building regulation staff.

A report to a meeting taking place next week explains why no central register is available and hints that private inspectors may have slightly different interpretation of building regulations

“In terms of assurances that can be given on whether non-council owned high rise residential buildings in York meet existing and future fire safety building regulation, the picture is unclear as the council is not the only provider of building regulation services. Currently CYC supervises 60% of construction within the authority boundary with 40% being provided by private service providers (Approved Inspectors (AIs)).

 This means that on approximately 40% of developments, CYC will not have access to any constructional information, and therefore can provide no assurances about fire safety regulations in place, if they are not the appointed building regulation service provider.

Approximately 10 -15 different AI companies work within council’s area at any given time, each providing differing interpretations of the building regulations.

The council could consider whether it should contribute to the Hackitt review in light of this issue”.

The issue has been revealed following a request for a report from Environment Chief Cllr Andrew Waller.

The meeting will also be updated on plans to install sprinkler systems in vulnerable public buildings in the City