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19. Sustainable Buildings

Core Strategy Strategic Objective

To address the causes and predicted impacts of climate change through ensuring new development is designed to minimise carbon emissions, use resources efficiently, and be resilient to the effects

SCS Strategic Aim

Our community has actively minimised environmental impacts

Why is this a strategic objective?

19.1 Climate change is now widely recognised and is a major challenge facing all communities with potentially more extreme weather events, including droughts and flooding. This is likely to affect people's lives, homes and businesses, as well as wildlife and the wider environment. There is concern at all levels therefore to address the causes of climate change through reducing carbon emissions, making more efficient use of resources, and adapting the design of new buildings and infrastructure to cope with extreme weather events.

19.2 In Warwickshire, carbon dioxide emissions are among the highest in the West Midlands Region with on average 8,300kg of CO2 emitted per person, compared to 7,400kg across the Region as a whole. It is important therefore at the District level to encourage the construction of sustainable buildings which include energy efficient layout and design, renewable and low carbon energy resources, and water conservation measures. The Council has committed to reducing greenhouse gases as a signatory of the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change and is undertaking work corporately to adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Evidence

Participation

19.3 In response to the public consultation on the "Issues Paper", 85% of respondents considered renewable energy to be of high or medium importance and 90% considered encouraging new development to reduce energy and water consumption to be of high or medium importance.

Research

19.4 The Council will be commissioning a sub-regional renewables study with its partner authorities in Warwickshire. This will establish the feasibility and viability of setting targets for the use of renewable energy sources and assist in determining the suitability of appropriate locations for certain technologies, such as wind energy and biomass within the District. In addition, a sub-regional water cycle study is also being considered to inform the Core Strategy on the infrastructure required to meet the demand for water supply and deal with the disposal of waste water from new buildings. These will be published in advance of the draft Core Strategy.

19.5 In relation to strategy documents, the Warwickshire Climate Change Strategy sets out the framework of what is being done at the County level to tackle climate change with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15-18% by 2010 and 60% by 2050 (against 1990 levels). It promotes on site renewable energy generation of at least 10% in all new developments. In response to the Water Framework Directive, the Draft River Severn Basin Management Plan which covers Warwick District sets out the actions necessary to protect, improve and ensure the sustainable use of the water environment by 2015 and refers to the importance of water efficiency in achieving this goal.

National and Regional Planning Policies

19.6 Relevant national planning policy is contained within PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development (2005). This requires local planning authorities to address the causes and potential impacts of climate change through policies which reduce energy and other resource use, reduce emissions, design for adaptability, and promote the development of renewable energy resources. A Supplement to PPS1: Planning and Climate Change has also been prepared and this requires the Core Strategy to be informed by, and inform, local strategies on climate change. Planning authorities are required to have an evidence-based understanding of the local feasibility and potential for renewable and low-carbon technologies, including microgeneration, to supply new development in their area. In providing a framework that promotes and encourages the use of renewable and low carbon energy, and drawing from the evidence-base, it must also set out a target percentage of the energy to be used in new development to come from decentralised and renewable or low-carbon energy sources where it is viable.

19.7 Local planning authorities should also encourage the delivery of sustainable buildings, support innovation and investment, and help to achieve the national timetable for reducing carbon emissions from domestic and non-domestic buildings. When proposing any local requirements for sustainable buildings, planning authorities must be able to demonstrate clearly the local circumstances that warrant and allow this.

19.8 Regional planning policy requires local planning authorities to encourage proposals which use renewable energy resources and minimise the energy demands of development through the use of sustainable construction techniques and energy efficient design. It also requires local planning authorities to promote local recycling of water supply.

19.9 The emerging Phase Two Revision of the RSS has introduced a more comprehensive set of measures to encourage the construction of sustainable buildings. This requires local planning authorities to ensure all new homes meet level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, and progressively higher standards of energy efficiency. Furthermore, it requires all medium and large development to incorporate renewable or low-carbon energy equipment to meet at least 10% of the development's energy residual demand. It also requires that new development is designed to encourage the efficient use of water resources and that all new homes should meet or exceed the water conservation standards in Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

What are the Options?

19.10 The Planning and Energy Act (2008) sets in law the framework for local planning authorities to require a proportion of energy from new development to be from renewable or low carbon sources. Furthermore, national planning policy sets a clear framework for the Core Strategy in terms of the approach to efficient use of resources, energy efficiency and designing in resiliency to the effects of climate change.

19.11 The options in relation to energy use for the Core Strategy are therefore whether the target percentage for new development should relate to the proportion of energy used, or the carbon emissions saved, through low carbon or renewable energy sources. The emerging RSS Phase Two Revision policy refers to energy used, however, it is widely regarded that a requirement linked to carbon reduction has the potential to make a greater contribution towards tackling climate change. In addition, a policy based on carbon emissions is more in line with the requirements of current and proposed building regulations and meeting zero carbon objectives through the Code for Sustainable Homes.

19.12 Other options in relation to energy use relate to the level at which the Core Strategy should set a target percentage, and the threshold at which developments should be required to comply with the target. There is an option to set the percentage target at 10% which is supported by the local climate change strategy and emerging regional and national policy, providing there is local evidence to support its viability. The target could, however, be higher or lower. In terms of the threshold, the emerging RSS uses a threshold of 10 dwellings or 1,000 sqm or over, however, again there are options to adopt a higher or lower threshold depending on viability. The sub regional study will help to confirm the viability of applying a higher target or lower threshold within the District in line with meeting the objective for addressing climate change.

19.13 The current policy framework in the Local Plan encourages energy efficiency and water conservation but does not require it. However, a rating against the Code for Sustainable Homes is now mandatory and the emerging RSS has proposed a minimum requirement for all new homes to meet Code Level 3. The options for the Core Strategy therefore are whether to require new development to comply with the national timetable for achieving zero carbon homes by 2016 through the Code for Sustainable Homes and for non residential development through the BREEAM standards, or whether to adopt a quicker timetable where these standards are met before 2016.

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What is our Preferred Option?

19.14 The Council's preferred option for the Core Strategy is to adopt a target for the reduction of carbon emissions through renewable or low carbon energy sources that is higher than 10% and with a lower threshold than emerging regional policy. However, the level and threshold at which this will be set will be informed through the findings of the sub-regional renewables study and possibly adopted sub-regionally, based upon the assessment of viability. In terms of achieving sustainable buildings, the preferred option for the Core Strategy is to require new residential development to meet the national targets for the Code for Sustainable Homes up to 2016 and for non residential developments to be rated against BREEAM standards. However, water conservation targets will be informed through the findings of the Water Cycle Study.

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