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Rise in the number of housing starts must not compromise energy performanceFebruary 2015


Saryu Vatal, Senior Consultant in the Sustainable Construction Group at BSRIA
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has reported a rise in the number of new homes started in England in 2014. Despite a small decline in the third quarter, the year ended with a continued upward trend in the last quarter. 

The proportion increase in new homes completed in 2014 was 8% above the 2013 figures, which in actual numbers represents just under 119,000 new homes. This is well below the Government’s annual target of approximately 230,000 new homes, to meet the housing demand in the UK. 

To meet this increase in demand for new housing, it is reported that nearly 100,000 new jobs have been created. However recent research projects have highlighted a lack of knowledge and skills in the building industry to provide homes that reliably meet low energy homes requirements. The concerns around availability of sufficient skilled workforce have also been echoed by organisations such as Construction Industry Training Board and Home Builders Federation. In response to these, new training schemes focusing on different aspects of the housing delivery process have also been introduced, which will be very welcome.   

BSRIA shares this concern and welcomes initiatives towards addressing these skill shortages. Our experience of work on Innovate UK’s (formerly Technology Strategy Board) domestic Building Performance Evaluation project also highlighted significant shortcomings in the design, installation and commissioning processes that are followed by the industry. A major area of concern remains the understanding between the interface of technology with the building fabric and users.

“The requirements for new homes to comply with the Building Regulations are becoming increasingly complex. Some of the solutions are now challenging the ability of the industry to deliver the Zero Carbon Homes standard that is nearly upon us. The industry is faced with the significant challenge of meeting a large demand for house building while at the same time ensuring that the energy performance of homes is not compromised” said Saryu Vatal, BSRIA’s Senior Consultant in the Sustainable Construction Group.

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