The number of new homes achieving top energy ratings appears to be on the rise in England, after government data published last week reveals the number of homes that received an energy efficiency rating of A or B rose five per cent in the final quarter of 2020.
Statistics published by the government last Tuesday reveal that 84 per cent of homes across England and 87 per cent of new homes delivered in Wales clinched energy performance certificate (EPC) ratings of A or B between October and December.
The figures marked a five per cent increase in the percentage of homes receiving an A or B rating in England compared to the previous quarter, when 79 per cent of homes clinched the top ratings, the government said.
In both countries, the vast majority of homes were given a B rating for their energy efficiency, the data shows. In England, just two per cent of new homes received the top A rating and 82 per cent of homes secured a B grade. The picture was similar in Wales, where 83 per cent of homes received a B rating and just four per cent an A rating.
However, the energy performance ratings lodged by existing dwellings were far lower, with just three per cent of homes in Wales and two per cent of homes England meeting EPC A and B standards. In this category, 80 per cent of homes in England and 78 per cent of homes in Wales lodged EPC ratings of C or D.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the figures demonstrated the homebuilding sector "remains healthy" in the wake of the pandemic.
"Building back greener and delivering quality energy efficient homes is a priority for this government and these figures highlight our commitment to helping keep household bills low for people, while looking towards a more sustainable future," he said.
The new EPC statistics provide a snapshot of how the various Covid-19 lockdowns over the last year slowed the delivery of housing stock, with the update revealing the number of EPCs lodged for new build dwellings fell by 15 per cent in England and 16 per cent in Wales throughout 2020.
In the final three months of the year, the number of EPCs lodged for new buildings were down three per cent in England and one per cent in Wales compared to the same quarter a year prior.
The government said the figures highlighted its "continued work during the pandemic to keep the housing market open and increase the number of energy efficient homes".
The figures are published as the government faces on-going criticism from MPs, opposition politicians, campaigners, and housing groups for its recent move to axe the Green Homes Grant domestic energy efficiency scheme.
Last month, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) called on the government to replace the existing EPC rating system with 'building renovation passports', which could provide more accurate data on energy usage and provide homeowners with long term renovation strategies.
In related news, some of the UK's leading housing associations announced late last week they had formed a partnership that would see them work together to improve the energy efficiency of homes.
Five housing associations - Abri, Anchor Hanover, Home Group, the Hyde Group, and Sanctuary Group - announced they had signed a 12-month agreement as part of the Greener Futures Partnership.
The partnership's initial focus will be to engage key stakeholders and customers on how homes can be decarbonised at scale and one of its first actions will be to agree shared standards and pathways for property types.
Another key goal for the group is to "create a single, credible approach to assessing the sustainability of homes and ensuring they meet the wider 'greener' agenda, beyond EPC ratings".
Also last week, modular housing company Etopia Homes announced it planned to achieve an UN EDGE ZERO Carbon certification for its 'zero carbon' housing development in Wilburton Cambridgeshire. The certification process is currently underway at the housing development, it confirmed.
The certification, which recognises homes that achieve a 100 per cent reduction in operational emissions using low carbon technologies, is yet to be awarded to a UK developer and has only been awarded to three other developments in the world, Etopia said.
And in more related news, developer Dandara Living announced it had secured a £60m green revolving credit facility from HSBC to fund the development of 11 sustainable build-to-rent projects across the UK.