Wednesday 23 January 2013

The "Consequential Improvements" Quiz

Why the UK government should show greater courage on the Building Regulations

Take a look at the photo; then see if you can answer the quiz.  The photo is of the roofs of two semi detached houses taken three days after 25mm of snow fell.

Is roof insulation a hot topic at the Department for Communities and Local Government?
1.       (EASY) Which house has the better loft insulation?

2.       (MODERATE) Which of the two houses is privately owned, and which is social rent?

3.     (DIFFICULT) When the extension was recently built on the right hand house why wasn’t the loft insulation improved at the same time?   Why is the insulation in the new roof (lower roof to the right) just as poor as the old?
4.  (IMPOSSIBLE)  Why has the government dropped plans to use the building regulations to ensure that home-improvements also result in energy efficiency?

The government's flagship green policy, the Green Deal is not an incentive scheme, it is a financing mechanism.  Home improvements are financially neutral to the householder because the reduction in energy savings is offset by repayments of the loan.  If the Green Deal is going to succeed, then it will need incentives to encourage participation.  The £125m grant scheme recently announced along with the launch of the scheme is a start, but will not be enough on its own.

The consultation on changes to the building regulations included a suggestion that when people make home improvements such as extensions, that they will have to improve the energy performance of the whole property.  This idea was a brilliant example of joined-up-thinking in policy development, because the home-improvers would incur no extra costs because the Green Deal could pay for extra insulation, new windows and beautiful solar panels on the roof.

Unfortunately, this idea was branded a “Conservatory Tax” by the Daily Mail, and the resolve of the government seems to have melted away like snow on a poorly insulated roof.