Edgetech’s MD Chris Alderson gives his thoughts on what net zero carbon by 2050 could mean for fenestration.
It might feel like energy efficiency has dominated the agenda for decades, but now it looks like that was just the beginning.
The UK government has committed itself to cutting carbon emissions by 100% between now and 2050.
It’s one of the strictest carbon reduction targets in the world, and if we’ve got any chance of achieving it, energy efficiency will have to take precedence like never before.
In other words, that 2050 commitment will have huge implications for how we operate in fenestration and construction more generally.
Last month, in fact, the government opened a consultation on Part L, and how it changes in light of the new, incredibly demanding carbon reduction target.
That’s not surprising. Given that private homes account for 20% of total carbon emissions, the way we build new houses matters, and obviously, any houses built today will still be in use in 2050.
Principally, the government is seeking feedback on two suggested courses of action.
The first would see it try and reduce the average home’s carbon emissions by 20%. Crucially for us in fenestration, one of the key ways it envisages doing that is by making triple-glazing the new norm, as well as minimising heat loss from walls, ceilings and roofs.
The second would see it strive to hit even steeper reduction targets, cutting the average home’s emissions by 31%.
Interestingly, this course of action would focus less on reducing energy use in the home (double-glazed windows would remain the norm in this scenario, for example) and more on using solar panels and other technology to help households generate their own electricity.
At this stage, we don’t know which option the government will go for, and interested parties can still participate in the consultation, and thereby help ministers make their decision.
The imminent general election will inevitably have an impact, too. A different government might have different priorities (although, at the time of writing, Labour has just announced proposals to spend £250 billion on its Warmer Homes for All scheme, a nationwide state-supported energy-efficiency drive).
But it’s also true that governments are usually very keen to save money, and that option 2 would be considerably more expensive than option 1.
In short then, if it came down to a straight choice between the two, it’s the cheaper option that would probably become policy. And crucially for us, that’s the one that would involve the widespread adoption of triple glazing.
That’s a whole topic in itself, but it’s safe to say that would generate strong reactions from the glazing industry, where many have cast doubt on the effectiveness and practicality of triple-glazed windows.
But regardless of what form specific changes in policy take, it’s now inevitable that we’ll see demand for energy efficient glazing grow more than ever in the years ahead.
That’s why, at Edgetech, we’ve tasked ourselves with designing the most energy-efficient spacer products we’ve ever developed. Our R&D team has been working tirelessly for almost a year, and now, we’re nearly ready to launch improved products that continue to propel the industry forward.