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Climate Change

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to encourage innovation in new technologies (a) for domestic appliances and (b) in the construction industry to combat climate change. (99637)

The Government are fully committed to raising product standards and encouraging consumers to use the most energy efficient domestic appliances. Progress is being made by a combination of policy measures including product information (energy labels), minimum standards, and the promotion of best practice. The Market Transformation Programme (MTP), which supports the development and implementation of UK Government policy on sustainable products, is in the process of applying detailed policy action plans for each sector. They will set out an innovation roadmap by which the Government and industry can work together to deliver more sustainable products. Further information on the MTP’s work on domestic appliances is available at: www.mtprog.com.

In June, Defra hosted the 2006 Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting Conference (EEDAL 06) to advance international co-operation and new initiatives on energy efficient domestic appliances. Further details on the EEDAL 06 can be found at: http://www.livegroup.co.uk/EEDAL.

A major revision of the Building Regulations in April 2006 raised overall energy efficiency standards and changed the method of showing compliance to align with the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. This new approach and associated calculation tools encourage the use of low carbon technologies such as solar panels and wind generators. However, because Building Regulations are written in terms of functional requirements, individual technologies are not specified.

The Building Regulations set minimum standards for new construction but the Government are encouraging builders to do more. The Code for Sustainable Homes will set standards for new developments above those currently prescribed by the Building Regulations. The code will not be mandatory across all housing sectors, although all new publicly-funded development will need to meet code level 3. In order to further promote on-site energy generation, new homes that use renewable technology will gain extra points in the code.

We are also reviewing the planning rules with a view to reducing the restrictions for small scale renewable systems. The Government also fund a grant scheme, run by the Energy Savings Trust, to encourage the voluntary take-up of renewable energy. This will provide industry with manufacturing, supply and installation experience, increase public awareness and drive down the market cost of renewables.

Since 2001, the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) has funded a number of research projects under both its former Partners in Innovation Construction Research Programme, and more latterly under the DTI Technology Programme, aiming to assist the construction sector in its transition to the use of technologies to minimise the impact of climate change on buildings.