Context 161 - September 2019

48 C O N T E X T 1 6 1 : S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 9 JOHN EDWARDS New standard for retrofitting UK homes At a time when the government has called a climate change emergency , a new specification is intended to improve the energy efficiency of UK homes by improving retrofitting practices. The British Standards Institution, BSI, has recently published PAS 2035: 2019: Retrofitting Dwellings for Improved Energy Efficiency – Specification and Guidance. PAS describes a ‘publicly available specification’. While it is not officially a ‘standard’, it is a document that is likely to have a major effect on the way UK homes are retrofitted. It applies to homes of all ages and types and therefore includes traditional buildings. The devasting effects of climate change are increasingly being recognised: a sharp reminder is the UK government calling a ‘climate change emergency ’ in May this year.With many statis- tics indicating that the homes of today will be around for a very long time (estimates vary but an EU briefing in 2014 reported that ‘at least’ two thirds of existing buildings will be around in 2050), there is a lot of emphasis on making existing buildings more energy efficient. The fear, in particular for traditional build- ings, is that we do not always know what we are doing and therefore frequently need to tackle the unintended consequences from what has been retrofitted. Overall, these have in some cases made retrofitted buildings less sustain- able than they were previously, with common problems including mould, condensation and increased fire risks. Changing how we plan and implement retrofit is therefore essential and PAS 2035 aims to do that. PAS 2035 is an output of Each Home Counts, better known as the Bonfield Review, an independent review of consumer advice, protection, standards and enforcement for UK home energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. The report of the review, published in 2016, contained 27 recommendations, including: to establish a quality mark for domestic retrofit supported by an industry code of conduct; a consumer charter; and a frame- work of technical standards for retrofit. The quality mark has subsequently been established as the TrustMark government-endorsed quality scheme ( . PAS 2035 is the over-arching document in the retrofit standards framework, and users of the TrustMark scheme will be required to comply with it when carrying out domestic retrofit work. All the other standards referred to in PAS 2035 are part of the retrofit standards framework including, most importantly for IHBC practitioners, BS 7913, and users of the TrustMark scheme must also comply with those standards, as appropriate. It is expected that PAS 2035 will also be applied to retrofit projects outside theTrustMark quality assurance framework where public finance is involved. PAS 2035 sets out a requirement to prop- erly assess dwellings, design and implement retrofit work. It operates alongside PAS 2030: 2019 Specification for the Installation of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) in existing dwellings and insulation in residential park homes , a revision of a previous publication which has also been recently published. This is the specification for installers to follow when selecting materials, components and methods of installation. Many will say that PAS 2035 is flawed because it does not focus on a holistic approach: it starts with the premise that build- ings need to be retrofitted in order to improve their energy efficiency, rather than a review of priorities for the fabric as a whole. The holistic approach includes making sure a building is in good repair so that it can perform as well as it possibly can, before deciding whether retrofitting the building fabric is necessary. That principle is embedded in BS 7913, but not made explicit in PAS 2035, though the new specification does state the benefits of mainte- nance and repair in the side notes. Operation Although not holistic, PAS 2035 quite rightly requires a whole-house approach. That means not that everything in a home must be addressed, but that the planned retrofit must take account of the house as a whole, reducing the risk of inadvertently installing measures that negatively impact others, including an impact on living conditions. The whole house approach is principally risk-based: projects are categorised in one of three risk-based groups, as determined through the risk matrix. PAS 2035 splits the work required to comply with the specification into specific roles, with specific duties and responsibilities, along with the need for individuals to undertake training and possess qualifications and memberships of professional institutions. These requirements are dependent on the role and the type of building being retrofitted. The retrofit coordinator is the key role.