Friday, 29 November 2013

The Sullivan Report – 2013 update

Earlier this month the re-convened Sullivan report panel published their findings in the report 'A Low Carbon Building Standards Strategy for Scotland (The Sullivan Report) - 2013 Update'

The original report, published in 2007, provided recommendations for investigation within an overall route map towards ‘net zero carbon’ new buildings and was integral to the review of energy standards in 2010 and the recent announcement on 2015 energy standards.

In recognition of the economic downturn and in support of ongoing and future work, Ministers asked the Panel to reconvene in May 2013 to revisit some of the original recommendations.
Focus points of the report include:
  • Review of 2007 recommendations which may prove overly challenging following the reduction in construction activity resulting from the economic downturn and its wider implications such as loss of experience and skills within the workforce.
  •  Recommendation to extend the preparation time for the next two sets of energy standards.
  • Acknowledgement that it may not be practical for all sites to achieve net zero carbon and the resulting advocacy that the concept of ‘Allowable Solutions’ should be investigated and developed.
  • That there is the need to better understand potential performance gaps between designed and as-built energy performance of new buildings and the factors which can contribute to this.
  • That an ‘Action Plan’ should be mapped out by the Scottish Government and industry to support successful delivery of the next set of standards and to further the transition to ‘nearly zero energy’ buildings (European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2 for all new buildings to be ‘nearly zero energy’ from 2021, or 2019 for new non-domestic public buildings).
The panel considered three specific topics.  In summary the recommendations are:

Eventual and Staged Standards (ambition and pace of change): 
  • To support a more successful implementation through a longer lead-in time, the energy standards proposed and already consulted on for 2014 should  instead be published in 2014, but implemented a year later in 2015.
  • The Scottish Government investigates whether the 60% and 75% reductions  in carbon dioxide emissions, originally recommended for 2013 in the 2007 Sullivan Report, would also deliver new buildings which meet the definition of ‘nearly zero energy’ new buildings in the EU Directive.
  • Subject to the previous recommendation, subsequent review of energy standards should be programmed to align with the EU Directive requirement for ‘nearly zero energy’ new buildings from 2019.
  • Beyond the current review, delivery of a ‘net zero carbon’ standard is linked to the development of the concept of ‘Allowable Solutions’.
  • In tandem, the Scottish Government publishes an ‘Action Plan’ setting out a  range of work elements to support the successful implementation of each staged improvement.
  • That Scottish Government aligns the emissions abatement aspects of both the Planning and Building Standards systems.
Process (delivering a ‘net zero carbon’ standard for new development):
  • ‘Allowable Solutions’ should be investigated as a potential option for delivering a ‘net zero carbon’ standard for new development.
  • If introduced, ‘Allowable Solutions’ should apply to both domestic and non-domestic new buildings.
  •  Investigation of ‘Allowable Solutions’ should recognise the need for simplicity and clarity of such solutions both in application and in substantiation of benefit.
  • Should regulation incorporate ‘Allowable Solutions’, the term ‘net zero carbon’ new building should apply only to development where emissions are reduced to zero without off-site ‘Allowable Solutions’.
  • That Scottish Government works with industry and other UK administrations in investigating ‘Allowable Solutions’.
Costings (recognising the value of energy efficient new buildings):
  • Research is carried out in partnership with the construction industry to develop a universal language for the marketing of very low carbon and very low energy buildings.
  • That Scottish Government gives consideration to introducing a financial inducement for prospective owners and occupiers that choose to own or occupy low carbon/low energy buildings, linked to either an EPC or a sustainability label.
  • That Scottish Government works with those developing valuation tools that may emerge so that they can be applied in Scotland.
  • That valuers and lenders are encouraged to recognise and make use of valuation tools that emerge.


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