Mr Robin Miller                            SBE0008

Written evidence from Mr Robin Miller

The Committee is inviting written submissions on the following questions:

  1. To what extent have the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations on decarbonising the structural fabric of new homes been met?

They haven’t, beyond general recognition that they are good and positive ideas.

 

  1. How can materials be employed to reduce the carbon impact of new buildings, including efficient heating and cooling, and which materials are most effective at reducing embodied carbon?

(i)                  More practical design, taking into account longer design life, extended useful life, re-modelling interiors for a second useful life (rather than demolition and new build).

(ii)                Greater focus on “Fabric First” principles to reduce energy demand and increase re-use of existing buildings.

(iii)             Improve manufacturing processes to reduce the carbon footprint of building materials.

(iv)              Make better use of local resources to reduce the carbon of transport.

 

 

  1. What role can nature-based materials can play in achieving the Government’s net zero ambition?

They can play a greater role progressively over time, but current pressures of Climate Change do not permit the current “indulgence” that everything must be “green”.

 

  1. What role can the planning system, permitted development and building regulations play in delivering a sustainable built environment? How can these policies incentivise developers to use low carbon materials and sustainable design?

Building Regulations are the key to Sustainability and higher standards.  Governments consistently fail to recognise that the building industry in the UK builds to the minima.   Improving Regulations’ minimum standards will not only improve building performance but will educate the industry and improve quality of work.

 

  1. What methods account for embodied carbon in buildings and how can this be consistently applied across the sector?

Current methods are complicated, incomplete, and appear to attract more theorists than to create interest in the general industry.

  1. Should the embodied carbon impact of alternative building materials take into account the carbon cost of manufacture and delivery to site, enabling customers to assess the relative impact of imported versus domestically sourced materials?

Most definitely.   Knowledge of the impact of local resources is far more relevant to the community than the incomplete declarations of imported alternatives.

 

  1. How well is green infrastructure being incorporated into building design and developments to achieve climate resilience and other benefits?

Not well at all.   There is far too much focus on generating energy and changing the infrastructure accordingly.   Relatively little attention is paid to improving building performance to reduce energy demand – eliminating fuel poverty and improving levels of occupant comfort in the process!

 

  1. How should we take into account the use of materials to minimise carbon footprint, such as use of water harvesting from the roof, grey water circulation, porous surfaces for hardstanding, energy generation systems such as solar panels?

Recognise that these materials are necessary in order to stabilise our environment and focus on developing materials and systems that are durable and reliable, rather than replaceable.

 

  1. How should re-use and refurbishment of buildings be balanced with new developments?

Greater emphasis should be placed on building basic, durable structures in the right locations, enabling future re-modelling and re-use, and avoiding demolition and replacement.    The notion of dismantling and reconstructing buildings has never worked and results in higher initial building costs, subsequent removal costs, and wasted investment in infrastructure.

 

  1. What can the Government do to incentivise more repair, maintenance and retrofit of existing buildings?

Raise Building Regulation standards and reduce the level of VAT on such work.

 

May 2021