On the 15th June 2023, the UK’s “Building Regulations: Part L “ transition period came to an end and it has now become mandatory for buildings to reach lower emissions targets. Compliance with the new regulations is essential for those engaged in the construction of new residential or commercial buildings in England, and this article delves into strategies and approaches that the construction industry can adopt to ensure ongoing compliance.
“Part L” Explained
Part L of the Building Regulations consists of four distinct documents, each dedicated to addressing the conservation of fuel and power requirements for various building types, including new constructions and existing structures.
Approved Document Part L1a outlines the specific criteria for achieving energy efficiency compliance in newly constructed dwellings, and it is the responsibility of the individuals involved in the building process, such as developers, builders, and designers, to ensure that the work meets the set requirements. The document sets different criteria for demonstrating compliance with building regulations, both during the design stage and after the completion of the dwelling.
This section highlights the requirements for energy efficiency compliance of building work, to or in, existing residential properties (extensions/conversions). The document looks at energy efficiency requirements of building extensions, as wells as ‘Material Change of Use’ (barn/garage conversions), and also a change to a buildings energy status (unheated building/space becomes thermally conditioned).
Part L2a focuses on the energy efficiency compliance requirements for new non-dwelling buildings, specifically commercial and non-domestic structures. Those accountable for the building project, including developers, builders, and designers, are responsible for ensuring that the work aligns with the guidelines presented in this document. This document highlights distinct criteria for demonstrating compliance with building regulations, encompassing both the design stage and the post-construction phase of the building.
The final section addresses the energy efficiency compliance requirements for building work done in existing commercial buildings, including extensions and conversions. This document encompasses the energy efficiency requirements for building extensions, alterations involving a “Material Change of Use” (e.g., converting an office into a school), as well as changes to a building’s energy status.
How Can You Stay Compliant?
In order to stay compliant with the new regulations, those in the construction industry need to adopt a more sustainable approach to designing and buildings different properties. By doing so we can create a greener future, protect the planet, and enhance the well-being of occupants by providing them with efficient-energy systems and appliances.
Fabric Energy Efficiency
Approved Document L emphasises the importance of improving the energy efficiency of a building’s fabric, including insulation, windows, doors, and roofs. By reducing heat loss and minimising thermal bridging, buildings can enhance their energy performance. Compliance involves meeting specific requirements for U-values (a measure of thermal conductivity) and limiting the amount of heat that can escape through these elements.
Target Emission Rates (TER)
To meet the government’s energy efficiency objectives, Approved Document L sets maximum allowable carbon emission rates for buildings. Compliance with TER is achieved through the implementation of energy-efficient systems, appliances, and construction methods. It encourages the use of renewable energy sources to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and decrease the environmental impact of buildings.
The document provides guidance on energy-efficient heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting systems. The construction industry is encouraged to adopt sustainable technologies, such as heat pumps, solar panels, and efficient lighting, to minimise energy consumption. Compliance involves designing and installing building services that meet specific performance criteria and energy efficiency standards.
Approved Document L highlights the importance of constructing buildings with high levels of air tightness. By reducing the uncontrolled movement of air, heat loss can be minimised, resulting in lower energy requirements. The document sets air permeability standards that buildings must meet. Compliance requires careful attention to construction details, proper sealing of joints, and the use of appropriate materials to achieve the desired air tightness levels.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
Energy Performance Certificates provide information about a building’s energy efficiency to potential buyers or tenants. Commercial buildings are required to obtain and display EPCs, which can be obtained through assessments conducted by accredited energy assessors.
The Future Homes Standard
Despite Part L only fully coming into force yesterday, a entirely new set of regulations is set to take its place in 2025. The Future Homes Standard is a set of proposed standards being developed by the UK government to ensure that all new homes built from 2025 onwards are highly energy-efficient and produce 75-80% lower carbon emissions.
With buildings accounting for 30% of the UK’s overall energy consumption, its role in achieving the country’s net-zero carbon emissions target becomes crucial. By focusing on energy-efficient and low-carbon solutions for residential and commercial buildings, we can actively contribute to the UK’s efforts to combat climate change and work towards a sustainable, carbon-neutral future.
How We Can Help
We understand that choosing and transitioning to any renewables-based system can be a complex and challenging process which is why we offer a complete “turn-key” range of services that include consultation & advice, energy assessment, system design, installation, maintenance, and after-sales support.
By choosing an expert in renewable solutions you gain access to a wealth of specialised knowledge and as well as any minimise potential risks, enabling a smoother and more successful transition to building more sustainable properties.
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