Changes to part L building regulations
Monday 2nd December 2013
Eagerly anticipated changes to Part L of the Regulations (concerning fuel and power conservation) came into force in April 2014 and have created debate in the industry. In particular, there are concerns about how developers and contractors will recover compliance costs.
What are the Building Regulations?
The Building Regulations 2010 are a set of minimum standards for the building and alteration of premises, enforced by Local Authorities to protect the health and safety of people in or around buildings.
What are the Part L changes from April 2014?
- New homes have to be 6% more energy efficient;
- Non-domestic buildings have to be 9% more energy efficient; and
- Minimum energy efficiency measures are required for building services work, such as air conditioning and replacement of lighting in existing non-domestic buildings.
What’s the effect of these changes?
- Developers, contractors, suppliers to the construction industry, manufacturers, software developers, architects and engineers must be aware of the changes to avoid being fined.
- Contractors/developers may have to be creative in recovering the cost of compliance for energy improvements. It is thought that the increase in construction costs needed to comply with the changes will be heavily outweighed by the resulting net energy savings over an average building’s lifetime. However, the upfront cost is borne by developers and contractors, and the savings will accrue much later to homeowners and tenants. There is little evidence that homeowners and tenants are willing to pay significantly more for sustainable buildings so contractors/developers may have to be cautious about how they budget for the changes.
- There has been criticism that the changes do not go far enough. The Government has imposed a deadline to achieve a zero-carbon built environment by 2016 for homes and by 2019 for non-domestic buildings. It is thought that these targets will not be met without further legislation.
- The industry view is that compliance with the changes can be met through simple changes to a building’s fabric. Consequently the changes have not been seen as a positive step towards investment in renewable energy.
For further information on these changes, please contact our Construction team.