Home Pitched Roofing On the road to net zero: roofing’s role

On the road to net zero: roofing’s role

by Jennie Ward

With less than six months to go until the introduction of challenging carbon reduction targets for new builds, Stuart Nicholson, Roof Systems Director at Marley, discusses what contractors can do now to get ready for net zero.

Stuart Nicholson, Marley.

The Government has made a firm commitment that the UK will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the route to achieving this, in the housebuilding sector, has been laid out in several pieces of regulation. 

Changes to Part L in June 2022 will be the first phase and will require an interim 31% reduction in carbon emissions on all new build housing. This is a stepping-stone to the Future Homes Standard 2025, which will require new builds to be zero carbon ready and sustainable. The Government’s Heat and Buildings strategy also sets out plans for all fossil fuel heating appliances in new build homes to be replaced by clean heat technologies.

This move towards net zero homes will require a fundamental change to the way houses in the UK are designed, built and heated. And the roof has a particularly important role to play, not only in how we construct sustainable homes, but also how we power them. As the country moves away from fossil fuels and increases its dependency on electric sources of heating, such as heat pumps and switches to electric vehicles, being able to generate their own electricity will be the best way for homeowners to keep running costs under control. 

“We think it is very important for them (roofers) to retain control over the whole roof because they have the expertise and the experience”

Under the new Part L changes, the 31% carbon reduction cannot be achieved by improvements to fabric efficiency alone, it will require the use of renewable technology – either a heat pump or solar PV on the roof, or both.  As a result, Solar Energy UK predicts there will be a five-fold increase in houses built with solar PV and that’s not even taking into account the huge demand for solar PV in roof refurbishments, particularly in social housing. For roofing contractors, this represents a significant opportunity for them to add solar PV to their services and, in fact, our concern is that those who don’t could end up losing out on business, or even becoming a sub-contractor to specialist renewables installers. 

If you take the automotive industry as an example, servicing and repairing electric vehicles is a different skillset and some garages don’t currently offer this service. However, if they don’t adapt, over time, as the nation moves over to electric vehicles, they will simply lose all their business to competitors. We don’t want this to happen to roofing contractors. We think it is very important for them to retain control over the whole roof because they have the expertise and the experience.  

“For roofing contractors, adding solar PV services is now much easier than in the past”

Adding solar PV services
For roofing contractors, adding solar PV services is now much easier than in the past. Our integrated Marley SolarTile simply replaces a section of roof tiles, so can be installed by roofers up until the point of final electrical connection.

They can then either partner with an electrician to complete the connection and final sign off, or become MCS certified themselves. MCS certification is the best option because homeowners will often look for this accreditation when choosing a PV installer. That’s why as part of our ‘Supporting the Roofer’ initiative, all roofing businesses can claim a £50 discount on their MCS certification application. Simply visit www.marley.co.uk/mcsapply

Developing a net zero strategy  
Yet, the road to net zero isn’t just about being able to offer renewable technology. As housebuilders look to reduce carbon emissions from their developments, being able to trace, and prove, the environmental credentials of sub-contractors and building products throughout the supply chain will become increasingly important. Therefore, roofing contractors will also need to look at their own operations to ensure they are as carbon efficient as possible.

There are several different areas for roofing contractors to consider when it comes to developing a net zero strategy. Starting with the direct greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations, then the indirect emissions – for example, the electricity used to power their operations – and finally, other emissions from the embodied carbon from the roofing materials they use.  

It will be important for roofing contractors to work with their supply chains to make sure the products they are using have the lowest levels of embodied carbon that they can. At Marley, we have been examining every single part of our manufacturing processes to see where improvements can be made, ensuring the embodied carbon of our products is as low as it can be by reducing our environmental footprint, energy consumption, CO² emissions and waste.  

To help contractors prove the sustainability of the materials they use, all our roof tiles achieve an A+ rating in the BRE Green Guide to Specification, and we were one of the first roofing manufacturers to achieve an ‘Excellent’ BES 6001, responsible sourcing accreditation.


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