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Rowntree report calls for tightening of energy regs

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Revolution rather than evolution is needed in building regulation to cut energy use in housing, according to a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation*. Timed to be part of the current detr rethink on energy regulations, the report proposes a 10-year programme to achieve cuts in energy use of 60-90 per cent. It acknowledges that the changes required would need a change in public attitudes.

The reduced energy use could be achieved in new-build through much lower U-values (as in Norway and Denmark), setting standards for airtightness and making sample testing mandatory, setting performance limits for heating appliances, and using the tax system to increase fuel prices.

Despite the fact that over only 10 years the biggest improvement might come from addressing existing buildings, the report has little to say about them. It does acknowledge their significance and suggests new-build standards could be applied to all significant refurbishment items, such as new windows, heating systems and reroofing.

* Towards Sustainable Housing: Building Regulation for the 21st Century. Robert Lowe and Malcolm Bell. Joseph Rowntree Foundation (tel 01904 629241), 49pp. £9.95.

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