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Government announces new Part L changes

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The government has today announced the long-awaited changes to Part L of the Building Regulations

The changes will result in a six per cent cut to carbon emissions for new build homes, below the eight per cent cut originally planned.

Carbon emissions targets for non-domestic projects have also been improved with requirements for a nine per cent improvement on 2010 standards.

In a statement the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the changes could ‘save 6.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide’, predicting measures could save £16 million per year for businesses.

The delayed updates which were originally due to come into play in October this year will now not become regulatory until April 2014.

The delays were criticised by the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), who have previously urged the government to press ahead with changes.

John Alker, director of policy and communications at UK-GBC, said: ‘There can be no excuses for the length of time this has taken, but finally industry has the clarity on Part L that it craves. Although we’re still waiting for details on Carbon Compliance, Allowable Solutions and the Housing Standards Review – so Government is not out of the woods yet.

‘The uplift is less ambitious than any of the options originally consulted upon – even less than Government’s previously ‘preferred options’, particularly for non-domestic buildings. However, the fact there is any uplift at all is good news – it’s a victory for all those who know that industry can continue to innovate, to improve standards and reduce carbon cost-effectively.

‘The delay in implementation is disappointing but sadly inevitable. It needn’t knock us off course from the zero carbon targets, which it is encouraging to see Government remains committed to.’

Communities Minister Don Foster said: ‘At a time when energy costs are rising and everyone is watching their wallet these measures mean anyone buying a new home knows it will be built to tough energy saving standards to drive down their fuel bills. Businesses will also benefit with new rules to make buildings such as offices, shops, warehouses and pubs more energy efficient.’

It has also been announced that they will be consulting on ‘allowable solutions’ in preparation for zero carbon targets which are due to come into play in 2016.

Further comments:

Jenny Mac Donnell, director of research and policy at the British Council for Offices (BCO)

‘Although this response from the government to the 2012 consultation has been a long time coming, it is good news that the industry finally has clarity on Part L.

‘We believe the 20 per cent improvement that was originally proposed in the consultation paper for non-domestic buildings would have placed a significant economic burden on regional office developments in particular. While the BCO called for an11 per cent uplift in efficiency standards, the 9 per cent called for under the revisions will help drive energy efficiency without negatively impacting growth.

‘The built environment is a long term investment and we need to create well designed buildings with low carbon emissions based on accurate data.

‘Further information on how this applies to commercial property will be included in the BCO Guide to Specification, which is currently being reviewed and due for release in May 2014.’

Hywel Davies, technical director of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)

‘It is good to have a statement and that the government is keeping energy efficiency at the forefront. However we now await the details to understand the implications more fully.

‘The original government proposal was for a 20 per cent uplift for non-domestic buildings, with 11 per cent as the lower option.  Adopting a 9 per cent uplift only means we need to see the full package to understand how and why this has been decided.’

David Bownass, WSP sustainability director

‘It’s difficult to understand how these figures were derived as they didn’t form part of the original consultation. It seems to be a lot of cost and disruption for such a small improvement over a limited period of time, and if it is intended to be a step towards 2016 zero carbon new dwellings it’s so small you wouldn’t need to lift your foot to get over it.

‘It’s now very hard to see how the construction industry will be ready to implement zero carbon standards in 2016. This would be less important to the overall UK carbon emissions if the Green Deal was delivering a step change in existing building performance.’

Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council

‘We believe this decision will result in energy bills for consumers occupying new homes being around a third higher and carbon savings less than a quarter, of those anticipated by the previous government’s intended policy.

‘The government has made it extremely difficult to react to this announcement because it has made high level claims without publishing any of the detail. It brings very little clarity, will not result in any material additional uptake of low carbon energy technologies, and really is non-news until the details of the regulations and the impact assessment are made available. This simply adds insult to injury following the long delays that have been encountered to regulations that were originally expected to be implemented in October 2013.’


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Although I welcome progress in sustainability standards it is pointless if the Government continue giving tax incentives for shale gas fracking. Making the national grid carbon neutral and sustainable is the only way to really secure our energy future

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