Why the UK’s construction industry has to act now
The UK’s Climate Change Act presents a big challenge to the construction and building services industries. Thankfully, combined heat and power (CHP) offers a long-term solution.
The UK is committed to reducing emissions to 90% below 1990 levels by 2050. A path to realise this has been set out but, as buildings actually account for 33% of the UK’s CO2 emissions, the task is a huge one.
One solution that’s already proving popular in the industry is to use combined heat and power (CHP). A CHP unit provides a substantial proportion of a building’s energy, and offers a route to long-term sustainability – while helping to meet regulatory, planning and voluntary standards.
How emissions targets are set
Assessing the CO2 emissions performance of a building is carried out using one of these methods:
- Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for dwellings
- Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM) for other buildings
Both use monthly, steady-state calculations, and the software compares the calculated emissions from the proposed building with a target CO2 emission rate (TER).
In order to comply with Part L of the Building Regulations (England, Wales) or Section 6 of Building Standards (Scotland) the predicted emissions for the building must be less than the target.
The role of the notional building
The TER is derived from the CO2 emissions of a notional building. This has the same geometry of the proposed building, but with fabric and services taken from a set of defaults designed to give an acceptable level of emissions. In the case of building services, this is a gas boiler for heating and grid electricity.
The CHP solution
The generation of onsite heat and power using CHP is a sustainable way to reduce the emissions of the actual building to well below the TER.
As the unit produces electricity, it captures the heat created during the process. This can then be used to provide low-cost heating and hot water – reducing energy use and emissions.
Building Regulations require the CHP plant to be well-configured. The Non-Domestic Building Services Compliance Guide (which sets minimum performance standards) requires CHP to have a minimum Quality Index of 105 on the government’s combined heat and power quality assurance (CHPQA) standard.
Planning – avoid the pitfalls with CHP
At present, planning authorities can impose additional requirements for energy efficiency as a condition of planning consent. For example, agreeing to supply a certain proportion of energy from low or zero carbon sources is a common requirement. Adopting CHP ensures this requirement can be met.
Through its planning policy, London now has a requirement that all new buildings have CO2 emissions 35% below the current TER defined by Building Regulations. A well-configured CHP system will make a significant contribution to achieving such a low emission rate.
By bringing CO2 emissions well below regulatory levels, CHP can also contribute to achieving good ratings on voluntary environmental standards, such as BREEAM and the new Home Quality Mark.
CHP helps create a sustainable future
With a well-specified CHP unit you can make a substantial contribution to ensuring a building meets regulatory and voluntary sustainability standards. Put simply, it’s smarter technology with sustainability at its heart.