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Sustainability -v- The Planners

Many planning authorities are now getting to grips with the need for Sustainability for new developments and new planning policies are being written almost weekly!

This is a good thing – the problem is though is that in many cases the Policy makers and writers are ill-informed or unqualified to be making the specific requests that are being enshrined in the new Policies.

There are several excellent bench-marking schemes dealing with the sustainability credentials of new buildings that are nationally recognised and accepted, for instance The Code for Sustainable Homes (a mandatory requirement for new houses since May 2008), EcoHomes, BREEAM ratings to name a few.

However, rather than create planning policies using these systems (eg insisting that all new homes meet CSH Level 3 for example) the planners seem intent on introducing yet another layer of complexity often based on the so called ‘Merton Rule’ (after the London Borough of Merton) where new developments must reduce their CO2 emissions by 10% by using Renewable Technologies.

The single main concern I have with this is the insistance that the reduction can only come about by the use of Renewable Technologies – reducing CO2 emissions by improvements to insulation, triple glazing, improving air-tightness etc don’t count!

Instead we have to bolt-on expensive equipment that immediately requires an on-going maintenance regime on the future occupiers…

Renewable Technologies are important but we cannot be blinkered into thinking this is the only way to improve the energy efficiency and CO2 emissions of new developments.