U-values (measured in Watts per metre Kelvin - W/m2K) measure the rate of heat loss through building elements. As they impact on both the dwelling emission rate and fabric energy efficiency targets, they ultimately govern the result of the SAP (the Standard Assessment Procedure) test used to assess a house’s energy performance. Achieving ‘good’ (low) U-values gives you the baseline for achieving and exceeding Building Regulations. But what are the best ways to achieve a good U-value? There are so many options in terms of design and materials you can be spoilt for choice. So where should you start?

One of the two main targets that needs to be met when assessing a new domestic building against Part L 2013, together with the Target Fabric Energy Efficiency (TFEE), is the Target Emission Rate (TER) for heating. A legal requirement within Part L1A, the TER sets a minimum allowable standard for a building’s energy performance using the annual CO2 emissions of a notional building similar to the proposed building.

One of the questions we are most commonly asked regarding the TER by designers and developers is “will this dwelling pass with electric or oil heating?” Most buildings are heated using gas, and unfortunately under current Building Regulations it is very difficult to get a new dwelling to pass and exceed the TER using electricity or oil due to the notional building method by which it is calculated.

The Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive sets out a legal framework across the EU to help drive specification of more efficient products which reduce energy and resource consumption. The idea is that this will make a big contribution to meeting the EU’s ‘20-20-20’ target, namely a 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% increase in energy efficiency, and 20% energy from renewables, which is targeted to happen by the year 2020.

The Home Quality Mark (HQM) has now officially joined the highly successful BREEAM family of quality and sustainability standards, stepping into the shoes of the now defunct Code for Sustainable Homes as a voluntary national housebuilding rating scheme which pretty much covers all of the bases. This comprehensive new standard incorporates elements of BREEAM and the Code but in its nascent and still developing form how workable is it?