New energy assessment rules now in force for GLA planning applications

New guidance on Energy Assessments must now be adopted for all Planning application submitted to the Greater London Authority (GLA). Herman Calleja, head of labs at chapmanbdsp, explains the implications.

"The GLA is encouraging passive design measures, targeting 10% and 15% reduction in CO₂ emissions, for residential and non-domestic uses respectively, through demand reduction (‘Be Lean’ step).

Similarly, stricter targets to reduce overheating risk and cooling demand are now in place. The new GLA guidance explains that residential units would not be expected to require mechanical cooling, an item which may conflict with many project briefs.

A new directive also means new carbon reflecting the grid decarbonisation must now be considered. Previously, carbon factors had indicated that gas was 58% cleaner than electricity.

However, with the new carbon factors, gas is only 10% cleaner than electricity, hence this is expected to lead to a shift from gas-fired combined heat and power systems to more electrical-based solutions such as heat pumps. Furthermore, the BRE is currently evaluating how these new carbon factors may be used for the Ene 01 credits in BREEAM assessments.

Additional investigations on aspects such as energy storage, smart grids, smart controls and network heat losses are now to form part of the planning application process and documentation.

Zero Carbon - a roadmap of how the project will target zero carbon by 2050 - is also to be presented as part of the energy strategy and, once the London Plan will be issued later this year, all non-domestic uses will have to aim for zero carbon and pay a carbon offset fund for any shortfall.

This may lead to significant carbon offset fund payment for most projects as the target will shift from 35% improvement to 100% improvement and hence early design advice is recommended to clients.

There is a lot to navigate in the next 12 months in terms of environmental policy and legislation and the picture will change frequently. The new carbon factors currently only affect developments in London. On the other hand, an update to the Part L of the Building Regulations, including new carbon factors, is expected toward the end of the year.

An increased emphasis on whole life cycle assessment, operational energy and energy use monitoring is expected when The new London Plan and other local plans are expected to be released later this year."

The main points are captured in the attached graphic (click on the bottom image to enlarge). At chapmanbdsp, we are always keen to provide strategic advice in response to these changes and welcome client feedback. For more information email