The installation of renewable energies, particularly solar power, in newly constructed houses across the UK, has witnessed a significant surge in popularity, thanks to the recent changes in Part L of the Building Regulations and SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure).
To meet the demand for high-quality family homes and promote sustainable living, most local councils are actively engaged in building new homes with low-energy consumption, fostering a sustainable community.
As the UK strives to achieve its Net Zero target by 2030, architects and developers are now compelled to pay closer attention to the energy performance ratings of new buildings. Consequently, SAP regulations have become a focal point not only for new builds but also for conversions and extensions.
In order to be self-sufficient and pass SAP calculations, all new homes are now required to incorporate energy-saving measures such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
SAP calculations determine the energy cost and environmental performance of a property on a scale of 1 to 100+, taking into account various factors such as the building structure, heating system, lighting, and low carbon technologies. Since 1995, SAP ratings have been mandatory for all new homes under Part L of the building regulations. However, with the increased emphasis on self-sufficiency, new builds now need to achieve a “pass” by generating a minimum of 10% of the consumed electricity on-site, although this requirement may vary among different local councils.
SAP calculations are also utilized to generate Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, which provide information about a property’s energy usage and expected energy costs. Obtaining an EPC rating is a legal requirement for renting or selling a property. Therefore, it is essential for all new builds to meet the SAP rating criteria. Fortunately, incorporating solar panels is a straightforward way to comply with these new measures, as only a few panels are typically needed to meet the regulations.
In new build homes, solar panels are often integrated into the roof structure. Building-integrated solar panels (BIPV) not only offer a sleek and modern aesthetic but also help reduce roofing costs. These panels sit flush with the roof during the felt and batten stage, making them a perfect addition to contemporary homes.
Installing solar panels on new builds is an excellent strategy to improve the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) score. BREEAM, established in 1990, assesses the sustainability rating of a building. Given that buildings and construction account for 39% of global carbon emissions, local authorities are actively promoting higher BREEAM scores to mitigate the adverse environmental impact of construction and development. By embracing solar energy, new builds contribute to transitioning the UK toward a more circular economy and greener way of living.
By installing solar panels, new builds can decrease their reliance on the National Grid and fossil fuels. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that an average UK home with a solar PV system could reduce carbon emissions by 1.3 to 1.6 tonnes per year, depending on the geographical location. Moreover, with the constant rise in energy prices, the financial benefits of solar panel installations are significant. Homeowners can save up to 70% on their energy bills, making solar panels an appealing investment. Not only do they benefit the environment, but they also provide financial advantages.
As solar panels become increasingly commonplace on rooftops across the UK, they are transforming from mere functional elements into symbols of change. By incorporating solar panels in new builds, we raise awareness of this technology and normalize renewable energy. This helps drive the UK’s.