News Archive 2018

Neil May - November 2018

 

Our co-founder, Neil May, sadly passed away on 12th November. His passion, knowledge & ability to motivate change will be greatly missed. His legacy of inspiring people to promote a sustainable built environment will continue. 

 

The STBA came into existence in 2011 following Neil’s discussions with other leading organisations – from Sustainability, Heritage and Industry – with concerns about the Green Deal. Neil continued to take an active role in the Alliance until ill health forced him to reduce his workload in 2016.

 

Under Neil May’s leadership in 2012 the STBA won backing from DECC to produce the Responsible Retrofit of Traditional Buildings, a report which built on an initial gap analysis backed by CITB and English Heritage. The report analysed the state of existing knowledge in the retrofit of traditional buildings, identified gaps in many areas of understanding, policy, skills & training, and made a series of recommendations to address these issues.

 

This approach has set the agenda for all our ensuing work, correcting standards where they were inappropriate for traditional buildings, improving policy in this area and providing guidance where it was completely lacking. The report led to significant funding from DECC for the development of an interactive Tool (the Guidance Wheel), and for work on moisture and thermal standards.

 

His work continues to form the basis of much of our work with much of the STBA guidance developed by Neil. And continued discussions on Heritage and Sustainability is based on The Future of the Past. You can download the summary here and the full paper here.



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APPG for Healthy Homes & Buildings White Paper

October 2018


The All-party Parliamentary Group for Healthy Homes & Buildings has launched its white paper: Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes & Buildings. It highlights the need for a holistic approach to building design and renovation as one of the predominant and most urgent actions required by Government.


We are pleased to see, in recommendation 3, a whole house approach to existing buildings: "Making the renovation of current housing stock an infrastructure priority and developing plans for retrofitting that takes a holistic approach to maximising health & wellbeing.”
 
The full document can be downloaded here.





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Improving Energy Efficiency

22 November 2018 at the Engine Shed

 

Historic Environment Scotland 1-day conference, covering principles of traditional building performance, principles for appropriate thermal upgrade and examples from Historic Environment Scotland recent pilot projects.


Our Nigel Griffiths will be one of the speakers at this event in Stirling.


Cost: £54.00 Historic Scotland members, £54.00 Concessions, £60.00 Non-members

 

 

More . . . .

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PAS2030 & PAS2035 and Each Home Counts

October 2018

 

PAS2030 and PAS2035 are due to be published in February 2019. The STBA has contributed to the development of PAS2035 throughout the process, and responded to the recent government consultation - where over 1,000 comments were received.

 

Our comments were minor as, in our view, the standard is of very high quality and needs little amendment before publication, though we would like to have seen a greater emphasis on repair prior to (or in place of) making changes. PAS2035 takes a risk-assessed approach to retrofit projects and traditional buildings will in most cases automatically be placed in the highest risk category, which should ensure that they are assessed by appropriately qualified surveyors. Significance of all traditional buildings (whether or not they have statutory protection) must also be assessed in line with BS7913.

The issue of qualifications is now being resolved and a level 5 diploma for Retrofit Co-ordinators is being developed by the FMB and funded by the CITB.  As most of the recommendations of the Each Home Counts review are now in progress, the EHC Implementation Board has now been disbanded.

 

 

 

 


 

EPCs and wider energy efficiency policy

July 2018

 

STBA’s director Nigel Griffiths joined National Trust, SPAB, CLA and IHBC to meet with Julian Critchlow, Director General, Energy Transformation and Clean Growth at BEIS. This meeting arose from a joint letter in 2017 which raised several issues around EPCs and wider government energy efficiency policy where it fails to consider adequately the particular needs of older buildings.

 

Ingrid Samuel of the National Trust explained the particular challenges they face with a large portfolio of private rented properties now subject to the new MEES regulations. Matt O’Connell of the CLA illustrated how some work which reduces carbon emissions can lead to a worsening of the EPC score, especially for off-gas properties. This underlined the conclusions of the recent paper from the STBA on problems with the EPC methodology (EPCs and the whole-house approach). We also pointed out that the recently launched online Energy Savings Advice Service (ESAS) did not seem to be consistent with the conclusions of the Each Home Counts report, which recommends a whole house approach.

 

Douglas Kent of the SPAB explained the risks of getting retrofit wrong and highlighted how the modelled u-values differ widely from actual measured values, as revealed by their research. He also stressed the importance of retaining the ability of older building fabric to breathe - to accept moisture and for this to be able to evaporate - when considering making any changes to buildings. 

 

Julian Critchley stressed that BEIS is still driven by the need to meet carbon budgets and that they needed a metric - this of course is likely to be carbon; as we know, this ignores many equally important aspects of buildings including human health and heritage - which, properly considered, should be part of a sustainable future. He also alluded to the importance of the government’s fuel poverty targets.

 

The meeting concluded with recognition from BEIS that a forum may be necessary for the detailed knowledge on this topic, held by the heritage sector, to feed into emerging policy.  We proposed that a group be formed with representatives of BEIS and the built heritage sector to facilitate this transfer of information, and BEIS undertook to look into this.



 



The Welsh Government recognizes the difficulties of retrofitting older buildings - July 2018

 

Our sustainability chairman, Peter Draper, joined Jill Fairweather of Cadw and Nigel Griffiths of STBA to meet with representatives of Welsh Government’s Decarbonisation & Energy Division and the Homes & Places team. There was genuine appreciation of the difficulties of retrofitting older buildings and a willingness to consider the evidence presented by the STBA and its members. There was also interest in developing detailed guidance to address the older housing stock in Wales, along the same lines as that which we developed for Bristol in 2015.

 

As we are now commencing our project to deliver “whole house” retrofit to 30-40 homes in South Wales (working with Melin Homes), this is very timely and the results can be used to feed into emerging policy in Wales. Welsh Government representatives pointed out that the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act obliges them to take a more rounded view of changes to the building stock and not to focus entirely on reducing carbon emissions from buildings “in use”. We therefore look forward to working more closely with Welsh Government as the whole house approach is developed.

 

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EPCs and the Whole House Approach

July 2018

 

The government is seeking views on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) - a tool that BEIS considers key in promoting energy efficiency improvements to buildings. This consultation is open until 19 October 2018. In April 2018 MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard) Regulations came into effect using the EPC as a compliance tool to mandate landlords to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard.

 

There are significant problems with using EPCs as a means of driving the policies for energy efficiency and we have been working with our Patron members, Historic England and the National Trust, to raise with BEIS our concerns and promote the necessary changes.

 

The EPC is not a substitute for an energy audit and can only be useful as part of an enhanced homeowners’ report for the individual property. This would include assessment of the building type, condition and risk factors as well as a step-by-step retrofit/refurbishment plan – going into the future. 

 

We therefore urge you to read the STBA scoping study, EPCs and the whole-house approach. This report provides an overview of the key issues, constraints and opportunities surrounding EPCs. It identifies ways in which they could be better aligned with the STBA’s ‘whole-house’ approach, recommended in the Each Home Counts report.

 



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ECO3 Consultation Outcome 

& the Green Deal Reform Responses

July 2018


The Energy Company Obligation: ECO3, 2018 to 2022 Consultation outcome is now available to download.


Also published is the summary of responses to the call for evidence on the reform of the Green Deal Framework. The summary of responses is available here 

 


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PAS2035 & Retrofit Training Pilot

July 2018

 

PAS2035 (specification for the energy retrofit of domestic buildings) is out for public consultation until 19th September) and is due to be published in February 2019. This will form an important part of retrofit going into the future. 

 

The STBA has been involved with PAS2035 to ensure the characteristics of old buildings are considered - and the initial draft will reflect this. However, it is imperative that we all get involved to ensure the end product – and the related training – are fit for purpose and filter down through all the layers of people involved with installing retrofit measures.

 

With appropriate training as a key element to success, the Federation of Master Builders, CITB & GLA are developing a retrofit coordinator course. This will enable contractors to deliver projects that are PAS 2035 compliant and covered by the Each Home Counts Quality Mark. Some of our members will be attending the pilot course in the Autumn. We look forward to their comments so that the STBA can give constructive feedback.

 

Over the next few months, we all have the opportunity to influence the final PAS2035 and related training. The STBA would like to hear your views and feedback as we respond to any areas of concern over the coming months.

 

Peter Rickaby gave a presentation (PAS2035: A new standard for domestic retrofit) at our STBA-SPAB Conference – this can be downloaded here.

 

 

 

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New STBA report released


EPCs and the Whole House Approach

May 2018

 

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are increasingly being used in UK policy as a means of driving the energy efficiency of the existing building stock. However, there are significant problems with this approach. The report provides an overview of the key issues, constraints and opportunities surrounding EPCs, identifying ways in which they could be better aligned with the ‘whole-house’ approach to retrofit developed by the STBA and recommended in the Each Home Counts report.

 

This study reveals that there are significant opportunities in the short term to improve clarity and understanding about the nature and limitations of EPCs. There needs to be a clear recognition that the EPC is not a substitute for an energy audit. Changes to presentation and the inclusion of key caveats concerning moisture, ventilation and heritage would also help to reduce the risks of misunderstanding and misuse.

 

In the longer term, it is becoming increasingly recognised that we need to deliver a sustainable built environment and not just a low carbon one, so a broader assessment is needed which has a wider set of goals - in other words, a Whole House approach, and an EPC can form an important part of the required assessment.

 

This scoping study has been prepared by the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance (STBA) on behalf of Historic England and the National Trust. 


The scoping study can be downloaded here.




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STBA & Heritage groups warn government over flawed approach to retrofitting older homes - November 2018

 

The STBA joined together with multiple heritage organisations, - including STBA members the National Trust, IHBC and SPAB - to write to the Government to emphasise that the one-size-fits-all approach to energy efficiency fails to recognise the unique nature of heritage properties.

The letter explains that policy to address the energy efficiency of the nation’s building stock is overly simplistic and designed from the perspective of modern construction and materials, ignoring fundamental building physics, resulting in inappropriate and potentially damaging measures.

 

According to the group, older homes built from traditional materials are being failed by the policy which gives homeowners inaccurate information on the energy efficiency of their properties and signposts them to potentially damaging retrofits. In the letter the organisations jointly ask to meet with Ministers to discuss the right solutions for safeguarding older buildings for future generations and to avoid further mistakes.

 

The conservation coalition writes that current policy to address the energy efficiency of the nation’s building stock is “overly simplistic” and “designed from the perspective of modern construction and materials, ignoring fundamental building physics, such as how traditional materials and structures ‘breathe’, resulting in inappropriate and potentially damaging measures.”

 

Click here for the full letter. 

 

 

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Building a market for energy efficiency: call for evidence - January 2018


The government is seeking evidence and views on additional measures and incentives that could encourage home-owners to invest in energy efficiency improvements.


This consultation closes on 9th January 2018 and we urge our members and Supporting Organisations to respond. The STBA will be submitting a response so to have an input here please contact Nigel Griffiths (nigel@stbauk.org).


More . . . 

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STBA Members' Meeting, London -

20 February 2018

 

We welcomed our Members and guests to the 2018 Advisory Group Meeting on 20th February.

 

In addition to discussions on our work programmes for the coming months - and hot topics of concern to our members - we were very pleased to have speakers from BEIS on the topics of PRS and ECO. These were Senior Policy Advisors, Tamara Dimova & Rita Varsani, respectively.

 

The STBA and it's Supporting Organisations are continuing to have dialogue with BEIS on the concerns we have regarding the assessment and retrofit of older buildings.


The BEIS presentation can be downloaded here.

 

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The STBA was established in response to concern over the “rush to retrofit” without consideration of the ‘unintended consequences’. The alliance of heritage, sustainability and industry practitioners was made possible by the joint desire for more research, enlightenment and influence (see the Origins & Development of the STBA), particularly in terms of defining and demonstrating practical whole building solutions

 

Our work on retrofit continues so that the failures, such as in Preston, can be avoided. The STBA has produced guidance and information including “Planning Responsible Retrofit” and “Whole House” . In addition, we were commissioned to produce the Moisture in Buildings paper published by bsi and we have worked with Bristol City Council to deliver their guidance on “Solid Wall Insulation”  and training programme for Bristol’s professionals and installers.

 

We are optimistic that, as the Whole Building approach is starting to be recognised in government policy and guidance, retrofit will improve and the need for different types of expertise for different building types will be acknowledged. Initiatives such as Each Home Counts should ensure that the one-size-fits-all mentality does not prevail.. However, there is still much work to be done and we shall continue to apply pressure for more change. Areas of ongoing concern are the assessment of buildings, EPCs and the SAP system for measuring energy rating.




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Beautiful Buildings - the argument for beauty in a sustainable future - February 2018

 

It is not all about energy efficiency. Preserving beautiful old buildings that are functional and use high quality materials is a form of sustainability, say researchers. (See the full article on Science Nordic)


The research project, sustainable built heritage, by the Cultural Heritage, Transformation and Restoration research unit of The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK) recognises the value of beauty in a sustainable built environment.


Professor Christoffer Harlang states: “The understanding of what sustainable building is has become very restricted. There is a tendency to place a biased focus on the energy requirements of buildings. It is a huge problem because it often means that you either tear down buildings and build new energy-efficient buildings or rebuild beyond recognition. This means we lose the cultural heritage that is staring us in the face.”

 

Explaining ‘beauty’ Architect, Nicolai Bo Andersen says. “Beauty is not a matter of ugly or pretty. It is more a sense of meaningful cohesion, experienced through our senses and bodies. When a building speaks to us, it becomes sustainable, simply because we make a greater effort to look after it – because it is valuable to us,”


More . . . 



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Retro-fitting of heritage buildings

Ecobuild - 8th March 2018 at 14:45

 

One of the STBA Panel of Experts,  John Edwards, will be chairing the only session at Ecobuild 2018 that focuses on older buildings and retrofit.

 

This session will explore the challenges in improving building performance in heritage buildings - energy efficiency, embodied carbon, resilience against climate change and flexibility in functionality. It will also explore innovations in design, construction processes and specification of materials that are being incorporated in heritage buildings in England and Italy through a panel discussion with leading experts. What are the new approaches being pioneered on Venetian and London heritage buildings? What is working, what do we still need to do better?

 

The speakers include our previous Heritage Chair, Roger Curtis, Technical Research Manager, at Historic Environment Scotland.

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Retrofitting Traditional Buildings - 

1-day training events led by Nick Heath


These one-day technical training events are run by STBA Supporting Organisation, The Green Register, and led by STBA Technical Director, Nicholas Heath. Nick covers current issues, solutions and emerging best practice in how to achieve ‘responsible retrofit’ – sustainable, low-energy traditional buildings with retained character, minimal risk to buildings and occupants and real benefits for all.

 

Principles including moisture movement, thermal bridging, building and insulation materials, energy assessments, planning and finance are complemented by practical solutions for domestic buildings, with a focus on solid walls, windows and ventilation as part of a whole-building approach.

 

Dates & Venues and more information are available on the Green Register website.


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ECO Innovation Stakeholder Workshop 

4 April 2018, London


In co-ordination with the BEIS ECO team, the Sustainable Energy Association and the Energy Saving Trust are hosting a free workshop focused on how the Energy Company Obligation could be designed to encourage and support innovation.

 

The output from the event will feed directly into the consultation process and as such this event offers an excellent opportunity to help shape the future of the scheme. 

 

We hope that several of our members and Supporting Organisations will be able to attend. It is important that, in the enthusiasm to 'rush to retrofit' to impossibly high notional levels, we bring some reality to the debate. 

 

Spaces are limited so to register your interest, please click here.

 

More on the Sustainable Energy Association website  . . . .

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Retrofit is at risk if not “whole house” approach

January 2018


Problems revealed in the article “Disastrous Preston retrofit” by Kate de Selincourt (in Passive House Plus magazine) flag up the consequences of retrofit without the ‘Whole Building” approach. Individual measures – such as efficient boilers – are, of course, beneficial across the board but unless the functioning of the building as a whole is taken into account, the result of more major retrofit will at best will be ineffectual and at worst damage the health of the building and occupants.

 

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PAS2035 - March 2018


A publicly available standard for retrofit is under development at BSI. PAS2035 will cover the critical survey and design elements which had previously been included in PAS2030 - which is itself being revised and will focus purely on installation. We are delighted that PAS2035 has clear objectives including the avoidance of unintended consequences, the protection and enhancement of cultural and architectural heritage, and improving comfort, health and wellbeing.
 
A wider stakeholder consultation will be held in the coming months. We will share this with our network as it is critical that these objectives are maintained and followed through in the development of the standard, which needs to be in place for the next round of ECO - commencing in October of this year.


 


Building the Future: Qualifications Review

 - February 2018

 

Qualifications Wales has published its report, Building the Future: Sector Review of Qualifications and the Qualification System in Construction and the Built Environment. The report recommends some robust reforms that are intended to deliver clearly articulated, coherent progression routes from 14 to 19 for learners in Wales. 

 

The report also recognises that the knowledge and skills to work on traditional and heritage buildings needs to be embedded in mainstream qualifications throughout all stages of learning. This a major step forward for the historic environment of Wales and something that Cadw is actively promoting through its Strategic Skills Partnership Agreement with CITB, Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland.  

 

Qualifications Wales is inviting views on the options that they are proposing. Closing date 13 April 2018.

 

The full report, consultation document and international comparison report are available on their website. 

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UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings, March 2018


The UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings has six ongoing working groups.

 

  1. Monitoring and modelling of moisture in buildings
  2. Ventilation, airtightness and moisture in buildings
  3. Moisture in new build
  4. Moisture in existing buildings and retrofit
  5. Flooding and escape of water
  6. Insurance and consequences of moisture in buildings

 

The STBA has several staff, Supporting Organisations and STBA Experts represented on each of these. In addition, Peter Draper (STBA Sustainability Chair), Nigel Griffiths (STBA Director) and Nick Heath (STBA Associate Technical Director) are part of the Moisture in Existing Buildings and Retrofit group – which is co-chaired by Harry Paticas and Bob Prewett (from our Panel of Experts).



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ECO3, 2018-2022 Consultation

March 2018


Energy Company Obligation ECO3 Consultation is open. The consultation document can be downloaded here. The section on treating solid wall homes can be seen from page 32.


The STBA will be responding. If you would like to communicate with us about this, please contact Nigel Griffiths at nigel@stbauk.org.


The closing date for this consultation is 29th April 2018.


More . . . 



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Each Home Counts Quality Mark

April 2018


The latest Each Home Counts newsletter includes a link to the consultation on the new quality mark. The consulation feedback cut-off date is 13th April 2018.




More on the EHC website . . . 





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CIOB Academy celebrate History Month

May 2018


May is Local and Community History Month and the CIOB recognises the importance of historical buildings to local communities. To help their member understand how to manage these important parts of the built environment the CIOB Academy is holding a 1-day course - Project Management and Supervision: Historic and Traditional Buildings run by John Edwards - in Stirling and London during #HistoryMonth


More on the CIOB Academy website . . . .


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BBP's Guidance on MEES & Heritage Properties: 
Saving energy and protecting cultural value - May 2018

 
The BBP has today launched its latest Industry Insight, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and Heritage Properties: Mitigating risks through the procurement and interpretation of Energy Performance Certificates.

The report has been developed in collaboration with Sturgis Carbon Profiling, to support owners of heritage properties in meeting compliance requirements of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), whilst simultaneously recognising the special requirements of heritage properties.

The introduction of MEES has brought EPC ratings sharply into focus as an important indicator for investment and leasing decisions. However, with EPCs predominately designed to rate modern buildings, they do not always account for the traditional characteristics of heritage properties or propose the most appropriate energy efficiency recommendations.
    
Heritage properties often have many opportunities to improve their energy efficiency performance. However, without careful consideration of how improvement works will interact with their traditional characteristics, there is a risk of works having unintended consequences that compromise their historic value and cause physical damage.

Fortunately, many of these risks can be avoided by ensuring that property owners have a sound understanding of their buildings and that high-quality EPC assessments are undertaken. Guidance to support owners in this process is set out in the publication.

See the report here.


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Whole House Retrofit Toolkit

August 2018



The STBA is delighted to announce a 3-year project to test out the Whole House approach to retrofit, pioneered by the STBA and endorsed by Each Home Counts. This is being carried out under the Government’s Building Thermal Efficiency Innovation.

 

Based on 30-40 properties owned by social housing provider Melin Homes in South Wales, we will commence with detailed surveys of each house - including context and condition - before generating a bespoke programme of measures with detailed designs. These will address health and heritage in addition to energy use. The properties will be monitored for 12 months post retrofit, to check that the measures are working as intended and to ensure adequate indoor air quality.

 

Surveyor training will be developed alongside survey templates and training for installers.  Following further testing with the National Trust and RetrofitWorks, the process & supporting methodology will be released as a toolkit for industry use across the UK.

 

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Practical responses to MEES

26th November 2018, Swindon

 

A workshop for landlords and portfolio managers.


Our Autumn event, held in conjunction with Fit for the Future, analysed the current Minimum Energy Eficiency Standards and looked at how these are being interpreted in practice in the rented sector. Helene Bartos, from BEIS, who joined us for the discussions, adviced on what the regulations mean and listened to the evidence of problems that are being encountered. 

 

In addition to complying with the standards, delegates were keen to hear how to achieve real energy efficiency - which is not always the same thing! Whilst policy continues to rely on achieving an EPC level, the focus of property owners will not be on achieving real thermal comfort and addressing the needs of the building and its occupants.  The event succeeded in identifying the problems and possible solutions that we will use for further dialogue with BEIS.

 

More . . . .

 


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French version of STBA Guidance Wheel

November 2018


The STBA Guidance Wheel has been adapted to give retrofit guidance for older buildings in France. CREBA (Centre de ressources pour la réhabilitation responsable du bâti ancien) has launched a French version of this on-line retrofit tool, which highlights areas of concern for different types of construction and climatic zones. 


The French government are hoping to repeat the success of the UK where professionals have been using the Guidance Wheel for several years. The on-line tool assists decision making and increases learning about the whole-house approach to retrofit of traditional buildings.

 

The launch of CREBA took place in Bordeaux where our Director, Nigel Griffiths gave a presentation on the use of the Guidance Wheel. Freely available in the UK for some time, the wheel is regularly used by those advising home-owners on retrofit. In addition, those comtemplating retrofit measures for their own home can find useful information on all the aspects to consider to ensure an effective, whole-house approach.


 

La Guidance Wheel can be seen here and you can access the UK version here.


A short video produced by CREBA on their work can be seen here, and a video on the use of the french Guidance Wheel can be seen here

 

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EPCs and the Whole House Approach

October 2018

 

Energy Performance Certificates are used as a tool that BEIS considers key in promoting energy efficiency improvements to buildings. With the increasing use of EPCs in policy it is vital that they reflect a true assessment of all types of buildings. As part of the STBA's ongoing dialogue with the government on building assessment and the whole-house approach, we have responded to the consultation on Energy Performance Certificates which closed on 19th October. Download the STBA response to the EPC consultation here.

 

The EPC is not a substitute for an energy audit and can only be useful as part of an enhanced homeowners’ report for the individual property. This would include assessment of the building type, condition and risk factors as well as a step-by-step retrofit/refurbishment plan – going into the future. 

 

We therefore urge you to read the STBA scoping study, EPCs and the whole-house approach. This report provides an overview of the key issues, constraints and opportunities surrounding EPCs. It identifies ways in which they could be better aligned with the STBA’s ‘whole-house’ approach, recommended in the Each Home Counts report.




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Date for your diaries


The 2019 STBA-SPAB Conference will be held in London on 11th June 2019


More coming soon


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