Following attendance of the final Qualicheck conference on the 21st February in Belgium, conclusions of the project were discussed.
For those of you not aware of Qualicheck, Qualicheck is a European platform focussed around 9 countries, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Romania, Spain and Sweden. The platform was funded by Horizon 2020 (EASME) with aims specifically to:
- identifying issues in respect to existing procedures;
- highlighting best practices for easy access to reliable EPC input data, delivery of improved quality of the works, as well as more effective compliance frameworks (“lead people to do what they declare”);
- raising awareness and engaging relevant stakeholders.
The key findings all raised the same issue that blocks the improvement in energy efficient homes being built – Legislation. Every European country that took part in the study found that they could easily reduce the carbon emissions from new and existing housing stock but were always thwarted when it came to legislation being introduced that would make the findings mandatory.
So what is stopping them!?
The answer is that we simply do not know. Commercial pressures are likely to be at play but unproven. One instance is the lack of support for enforcing existing housing stock is upgraded when undergoing a major refurbishment. To put this into legislation could be a straight forward process – all refurbished houses could need to meet a minimum of C on the existing EPC rating. Minimal changes would be needed. For the most it would be the addition of some more insulation, an air tightness test and to employ someone to carry out a quick SAP calculation. Pennies compared to the overall cost of a build. But I suspect the real issue is a change in method and a change in thinking is needed from contractors who simply do not want to change.