Part L 2014 – baby steps towards low carbon building

Part L - slow going

On 30th July, the government announced their proposals for Part L of the Building Regulations, with a 2014 timeline rather than the originally proposed 2013 implementation…

Full details won’t be available until the Approved Documents are published (later this summer – 2013), but the key points are:

  • New homes will be required to achieve a 6% uplift over the current level.  This is a reduction from the consultation proposal of 8% and a long way from the 26% level also considered.
  • A new target for fabric energy efficiency standard (FEES) will be introduced.
  • Fuel factors will stay at existing levels.
  • No regulatory requirement for the QA process proposed in the consultation for house building. However the Zero Carbon Hub’s work on design versus actual performance was referenced (Interim report recently published).
  • Existing homes – no change in standards, but future upgrades not ruled out.
  • New non-domestic buildings will be required to achieve a 9% uplift, which means that extensive renewables will not be required, but may still be used. This is a significant reduction on the 20% proposed in the consultation.
  • Standards on replacement building services standards in existing non-domestic buildings are proposed to be tightened.

It’s worth reiterating that the Zero Carbon Hub proposed a 2016 carbon compliance level for low carbon housing, balanced around a 52% aggregate reduction from 2010 levels, with allowable solutions covering the remainder of emissions to zero carbon. This puts the 6% ‘baby step’ into perspective as to just how far we still need to go.

On the FEES front, there is no detail yet as to what the 2014 target will be, but at least this paves the way forward to ensuring that well insulated, airtight homes are at the core of low carbon housing.

The statement notes that these changes will “cut carbon emissions, help tackle climate change and ensure the government is on track to deliver the budget commitment for zero carbon homes from 2016 in England”.

From the various media outlets reporting on these proposals, many are questioning how likely it is that the 2016 aim will be met.  It certainly looks like these proposals are too little, too late – it’s been more than a year since the consultation ended.

If this change is a baby step, the next one is going to seem like a massive leap, assuming this (or the next) Government does intend to stick to the 2016 target.

The usual naysayers are no doubt already getting in their opening salvoes, arguing against further change in 2016;  they will claim again, that it will be too soon for them to have properly understood the new requirements and that further improvements will threaten house building and economic recovery.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the 2016 aim were to slip;  In the Allowable Solutions consultation (just released) the government notes that “it may need to introduce a longer familiarisation and/or transition period than might be the case for any other change to Building Regulations”.

So 2020 it is then…

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Jon Ducker is a qualified energy assessor working for Kingspan Insulation Ltd. He has an extensive knowledge of energy efficiency, renewable energy systems and sustainability in buildings with an expert knowledge of the relevant sections of buildings regulations and standards and their interactions with SAP. He provides authoritative advice regarding energy assessments for a wide range of public and private sector clients.

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