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Is it time to focus on health rather than energy?

  • 18 Sep 2017

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Energy Performance Certificates when marketing UK residential properties have been legal requirements for ten years. Michelle Sharp Zehnder Group UK asks, how much of an impact have they really had?

It’s still questionable after ten years whether a well-insulated home really demands a higher price when it comes to selling. Apart from on the information given to us by estate agents, do we ever see these certificates referred to or checked again?

Energy efficiency was and still remains a crucial part of the building agenda for good reason. The government funded programmes for insulation set out an agenda to reduce carbon emissions in the UK, of which housing was a massive contributor.

From 2008-2012, insulation carbon savings made up 58% of all carbon savings made in that period.

However, ten years on and our homes are all sealed up and the narrative has become so one-sided that little else is not even considered during design and material specification stage – often to the detriment of the finished home and the end user.

This heavy focus on energy, although important and well-meaning, is in danger of stopping us from making valuable and meaningful differences to people’s lives in other ways.

We now need to implement measures which concentrate on the things we cannot buy: health, wellbeing, comfort and happiness. The average persons pends more than 80% of their life in buildings – in homes or the office. The effect of this on our wellbeing may be invisible, but it is nonetheless profound.

Design and specifications can affect everything from mental health to exacerbating allergies and respiratory diseases. The number of people with asthma is growing, with 5.4 million people in the UK now affected, factors such as flooring types, ventilation and the control on bedroom radiators are hugely important.

Energy efficiency, health and comfort are all connected, and if this continues to be ignored and isn’t raised up the building design agenda, the consequences and knock on effects will be quickly felt. In addition, energy efficiency is no longer a game changer – it is a hygiene factor, and should not be the sole focus of innovation and effort.

Policymakers are now realising the need to priorities health in housing design and last month an All Party Parliamentary Group published a Green Paper on Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings. This draft paper is open for consultation until 31st September, so now is the time to help shape what may well become the next wave of regulations to transform the building services environment for years to come.

Zehnder Group UK Ltd
Unit 4, Watchmoor Point
GU15 3AD

01276 605800

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