The Queen’s Speech: 5p For A Plastic Bag – But What Price For Sustainable Housing?


Fan manufacturer Elta Fans have expressed concern over the potential watering down of the UK government’s commitment to sustainable housing following the Queen’s Speech delivered on Wednesday 4 June 2014.

The speech at the start of each parliamentary session gives an outline of the government’s proposed legislation for the forthcoming year. Most headlines reporting on ‘Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Address’ this year focus on proposals to bring in charges to limit the use of plastic carrier bags. However, detail changes to the coalition’s proposed Infrastructure Bill show the government in a less eco-friendly light. While many specialists view minimising the environmental impact of UK housing crucial to lowering the country’s carbon emissions and reducing growing energy bills, legislation within the bill is now likely to introduce ‘allowable solutions’. This is despite such an amendment backtracking on the government’s pledge to make all new homes ‘zero-carbon’ by 2016. Alan Macklin, Technical Director of the Elta Group, says: “We recognise the importance of providing market conditions in which UK house builders can address the housing shortage in this country.

However, we believe it should not be at the expense of a genuine commitment to a more sustainable approach to housing.”

Within larger housing projects, the government is now arguing that it is not always technically viable for builders to mitigate all emissions on-site. Builders will be allowed to fit homes up to Level 4 of the new Code for Sustainable Homes rather than Level 5 – the accepted standard for zero-carbon homes. Current 2013 Building Regulations equate to Level 4. Developers may compensate for the zero-carbon shortfall by contributing to alternative green schemes at a rate of between £38 and £90 per tonne of carbon. This, of course, means that the highest levels of energy efficiency will not always be attained. The new bill will also effectively make all small housing developments exempt from the new standards.

The definition of a small site, most commonly undertaken by smaller building companies, will be the subject of consultations and set out in the proposed legislation. In exempting small developments – a significant part of the housebuilding market (sites of less than 10 properties represented 12.4 % of all new dwellings in 2014, with sites of less than 50 accounting for 36.4%) – the proposal is again seen by some as a retrograde step. Elta Fans remain committed to the sustainability of the environment, protecting it through the incorporation of ecologically sustainable principles across all areas of its operations.

Specialising in the design and manufacture of ventilation equipment, Elta Fans engineers are working on a residential range of fans that combine minimum energy consumption, maximum efficiency and minimal environmental impact. One of the products central to the range has recently achieved exceptional results under independent testing. In the BRE (Building Research Establishment) tests, the MORI dMEV unit, one of several new products, outperformed everything on the market. Alan Macklin, continues: “Ventilation Systems have a vital role to play in ensuring effective indoor air quality. But, performance is also about operating costs and energy efficiency as we seek a more sustainable approach to the built environment.” As a result of the current shifting legislative landscape, Elta Fans’ technical team works to ensure its system designs are always fully compliant and as ‘future-proof’ as possible.