Passivhaus & the Climate Emergency

No planning obstacles for local authorities to require Passivhaus standard

Building the Denby Dale Passivhaus: continuity of insulation in the roof space

Local authorities in England can now set energy standards beyond Building Regulations. In July 2018 the UK Government clarified its position* on local authorities setting higher energy requirements than those currently contained in the Building Regulations as part of its revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The NPFF sets out government’s planning policies for England and the Government has now clarified that the NPFF does not prevent local authorities from using their existing powers under the Planning and Energy Act 2008 or other legislation where applicable to set higher ambition. In particular, local authorities are not restricted in their ability to require energy efficiency standards above Building Regulations.

For a number of years local authorities (except for the GLA) have worked on the understanding that they could not set energy efficiency standards beyond those set by Part L of the Building Regulations. As a result of this clarification there are now clearly no obstacles or impediments to local authorities taking a leadership role and calling for building standards, like the international Passivhaus standard, that go beyond national minimum requirements.

Many local authorities are already adopting the Passivhaus standard on their own projects, with excellent results, including Glasgow, Exeter and Norwich. With this clarification we now know that there is nothing in planning law to stop local authorities requiring energy efficiency standards beyond those currently required by Building Regulations.

The recent IPCC report made it starkly clear that rapid decarbonisation was required to avoid catastrophic climate change. This urgent need and the response from local authorities through the growing number of declarations of ‘Climate Emergency’ will mean that they will be starting to look at ways of addressing rapid decarbonisation.  With this clarification in place, it is now it is clear that making Passivhaus a requirement for new buildings could be one of the first decarbonisation measures they take. . .

More information

*The need for clarity on this issue was the subject of a joint letter from UKGBC, Core Cities UK and UK 100 to the former Housing Minister Dominic Raab MP.

Government confirms local authorities can set energy standards beyond Part L in NPPF

Passivhaus Social: Support and information for local authorities and housing associations from the Passivhaus Trust

Zero Carbon Yorkshire BUILDINGS group aims to promote  ‘Passivhaus low energy building standard (for newbuilds) to local authorities and housing associations within Yorkshire’:

Chayley Collis, Green Building Store

Chayley Collis, Communications Manager, Green Building Store

25th February 2019

3 responses to “Passivhaus & the Climate Emergency”

  1. blank Jon Davies says:

    Interesting. Could this apply to neighbourhood level planning as well as to local authorities do you think? i.e. could a neighbourhood planning forum specify Passivhaus for future development?

  2. blank Toby Coke says:

    Great article Chayley and nice close up of that Denby Dale eaves detail!
    In reply to your point, Jon, theoretically yes, a Neighbourhood Plan could require the Passivhaus standard in its area. Neighbourhood Plans do need to be in general conformity with strategic policies in the Local Plan, but I think you’ll find very little in Local Plan policy (outside London) to conflict with. The abolition of the Code for Sustainable Homes and the ambiguity in national planning policy Chayley refers to has led to policy vacuum on the energy efficiency front outside Greater London (where the London Plan sets requirements).

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