Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Sustainable construction and minimising carbon dioxide emissions in new development

12.13 New development has the potential to increase CO2 emissions through the construction of buildings and their subsequent use. Therefore, it is vitally important to use high standards of sustainable construction. National policy, to be delivered through gradual improvements to Building Regulations, is for new homes to be 'zero carbon' from the year 2016, and non-domestic buildings to achieve this standard from 2019. In order to meet these stringent requirements to reduce CO2 emissions, there will be a need for on-site measures through energy efficiency and renewable and low carbon energy (e.g. solar PV, wind, Combined Heat and Power); and Allowable Solutions for those emissions that cannot be mitigated on-site. The Government have not yet formally announced what will constitute an Allowable Solution, but they could include:

  • Improving the energy performance of existing buildings;
  • Exporting low or zero carbon heat to other buildings;
  • Investment in off-site low or zero carbon technology;
  • Energy efficient appliances fitted into homes.

12.14 The Council will actively support energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings in particular, in line with national policy. National sustainable construction standards are set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes (measured from level 1-6), and by the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) (resulting in either a 'pass', 'good', 'very good', 'excellent' or 'outstanding') for non-domestic buildings. Although energy is a key aspect, these sustainable construction standards cover a range of other issues such as water, waste, health and well being, and ecology. Although 'water stress' (potential lack of water supply) has not been identified as a particular issue for South Somerset, climate change and population growth will require more efficient use of water through measures such as rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling and water efficient appliances.

12.15 National policy[1] allows local requirements for a building's sustainability to be set, as long as it is consistent with the Government's zero carbon buildings policy and adopts nationally described standards. Given that the cost of meeting the energy requirements in the Building Regulations represent a significant proportion of the total cost of achieving Code for Sustainable Homes standards,[2] it is proposed that the Code levels equivalent to Building Regulations are required. The extra costs and technical possibility of achieving these standards is an important consideration, and they will not be required if the applicant has robust evidence to indicate that the particular circumstances of the proposal make it not feasible or viable to deliver the development as a whole. The large-scale development proposed at Yeovil and Chard in particular offer opportunities to incorporate decentralised and renewable technologies such as Combined Heat and Power. The Government proposals to change the definition of ‘zero carbon’ to the equivalent of energy level 5, means that Policy EQ1 specifies level 5 rather than level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

1. NPPF March 2012 [back]
2. Cost of building to the Code for Sustainable Homes - updated cost review, CLG, August 2011 [back]