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Last edited 22 May 2014

Delays to Part L: A Risk to Industry Growth

In the first of a series of blogs by --KLH Sustainability, Ritu Rajashekar and Sophie Frith consider the impact of the delays to Part L of the Building Regulations

The government’s delay in announcing the expected changes to Part L of the Building Regulations is casting doubt on the zero carbon targets for domestic and non-domestic buildings.

The 2012 budget statement committed the government to “publish a detailed plan, setting out its response” on changes to Part L of the Building Regulations by May 2013. The updated Part L was expected to:

  • Strengthen new-build standards to pave the way towards zero carbon.
  • Introduce a separate fabric energy efficiency target for new dwellings.
  • Propose changes to the calculation tools used to evaluate buildings.
  • Increase the standards of energy efficiency for existing buildings to support the Government's planned Green Deal initiative.
  • Introduce measures to incentivise improved compliance.

However, the detailed requirements of the updates have still not materialised. Without the comprehensive update of Part L many fear that achieving the government’s ambitious carbon targets is unrealistic.

The delay is creating a multitude of concerns, and the longer it continues, the more potent they become. Some designers are now developing multiple building models to compensate for the uncertainty. This drives up costs for clients and diverts money away from new projects or even causes work to be terminated. Manufacturers are also losing out from the delays. Time and money spent producing detailed U-value calculations may have to be repeated when further regulations are published.

This is not the first time a delay to regulation changes has aggravated the construction industry. In 2011, The Department for Communities and Local Government aimed to bring about new changes to the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) regulations by 1 July 2011. The changes did not materialise until the following year.

Before the changes were made to the EPC regulations in 2012, the requirements to obtain a certificate had been subject to low levels of enforcement and routine non-compliance. The updated regulations worked to counter this non-cooperation by placing the power of commissioning a certificate in the hands of the marketing agents rather than landlords and owners. The modifications also intended to extend the current requirements for residential buildings to cover all non-residential buildings. The 2012 protocols were imperative to ensure the implementation of solid emission savings initiatives and to generate new refurbishment opportunities within the UK.

Reaching carbon targets is not the only objective at stake. The construction sector is in a very vulnerable position following a long recession. Any further challenges threaten to hamper recovery. It is time the government realised that well-constructed legislation supports, rather than stifles, innovation and growth.