The new London Plan – what will be the impact on Energy Strategies?

The new London Plan – what will be the impact on Energy Strategies?

The Greater London Authority’s new London Plan was released in December 2017, and although it is still at draft consultation stage, big changes have been submitted in almost all areas of energy policy.

As with the current London Plan, the focus is still to “be lean, be clean, be green”. But the Mayor has now taken it quite a few steps further, with energy requirements, minimum levels and approaches for all domestic developments within London becoming much stricter, which will have a big impact on the energy strategies for new buildings.

Higher Energy Efficiency Standards

Within the existing plan, residential development’s must achieve regulated (Part L) carbon emission targets using energy-efficiency measures alone, and then must demonstrate within their energy assessments how they will achieve a 35% reduction in regulated carbon dioxide emissions.

Within the new plan, there is a bigger focus on energy efficiency – domestic space will now need to demonstrate a 10% improvement on Part L requirements through energy efficiency alone, and non-domestic space will need to achieve a 15% improvement.

This will mean that developers will need to consider factors such as their fabric specifications, glazing ratios and positioning, ventilation strategy and airtightness when drafting their initial energy assessments.

Focus on Air Quality

Whilst the air quality is not directly linked to energy standards, it will have a major impact on the type of heating and power that a developer can consider. Any new domestic buildings must be at least air quality neutral, while those in “opportunity areas”, such as those earmarked for development, should be air quality positive.

In the new plan, to achieve air quality neutral, prospective developments will be expected to include low or zero-emission heating and power sources and avoid onsite combustion-based heating systems. This could lead to a rise in electricity-based systems such as heat pumps.

Some schemes may still be able to use combustion-based sources of heating or power, such as gas boilers or combined heat and power (CHP), where this has lower emissions than the previous building. 

Tackling Overheating

Due to climate change, overheating is becoming an increasingly serious issue and has been addressed within the new plan. All new developments will now need to use a dynamic simulation model that meets CIBSE guidelines (TM52 for non-domestic and TM59 for domestic). Where possible compliance needs to be achieved through design and specification rather than introducing cooling systems, e.g. by glazing design, solar control, adjusting floor-to-ceiling heights, including exposed thermal mass and from the use of green roofs and walls. 

Zero Carbon Emissions

The mayor of London has set the objective of making London a zero-carbon city by 2050. To achieve this, all new developments at design stage must have an energy strategy in place illustrating how the building will achieve zero-carbon on-site emissions without major retrofit or strip-out of services.

It is widely anticipated that the supply of electricity will continue to decarbonise so that by 2050 it will be virtually, if not totally, zero carbon. This is something developers must focus on by implementing heating solutions that are powered by electricity. However, the challenge they face is that the solution must be efficient to keep the running costs affordable and the demands on the supply infrastructure must be manageable.

Minimise Peak Demand

With the focus being on electricity-based heating and power supplies, there will likely be a sizeable increase in demand on the energy supply infrastructure. As a consequence, the wholesale price of electricity and the carbon factors of grid electricity are expected to be high during peak use. At present, this charge is not passed on to the consumer.

To mitigate the prospect of energy suppliers introducing variable tariffs to offset the high costs during the winters months, the new plan requires new developments to show how they will minimise or shift peak energy demand.

Focussing on developing energy efficient buildings will contribute towards this, but it will need to be taken a step further by considering other methods such as smart controls and energy storage via thermal or battery.

Reporting on Actual Energy Use

Since the introduction of design-stage energy assessments, it has been found that many buildings use significantly more energy when in use than the amount projected during design.

The main factors contributing to this are the omission of unregulated energy in areas such as IT, other small power, lifts and escalators.

To address the problem, and to understand how buildings are actually performing in practice, new developments will need to monitor and report on their energy use for at least five years. Developers will need to look beyond the standard compliance-based energy modelling to gain a more realistic view on how the new building will fair once built.

Using the guidance of CIBSE TM54, which helps turn low energy designs into low energy buildings, developers must be confident that they can meet their design energy targets.

Developing in London?

If you are looking to develop in London there are now so many areas to consider. At Energytest it is our job to understand the policies and how they affect all aspects of planning, development and building. Working with our fully qualified and knowledgeable consultants will give you confidence that your projects will achieve full compliance.