Building regulations to tackle climate change

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department Environment Food and Rural Affairs revealed that measures to make buildings more energy efficient will save one million tonnes of carbon per year by 2010.

The changes to Parts F and L (ventilation and fuel conservation) of the Building Regulations two years ahead of schedule from April 2006 and the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive will make a major contribution to the UK’s commitment to combat climate change.

This will mean new homes will need to be better insulated and make use of more efficient heating systems.

The revised Part L will also make air pressure leakage testing of buildings mandatory, improving compliance with the regulations by showing where there is unacceptable leakage, which can reduce the energy efficiency of buildings.

These measures alongside changes to condensing boilers will deliver increased energy standards for new buildings, including around 27% in non-dwellings, 22% in houses and 18% in flats.

On average the increase in dwellings will be 20% which reflects the growing proportion of flats being built with more people now living alone.

The new measures taken together with changes to strengthen Building Regulations in 2002 will improve standards by 40%, cutting fuel bills by up to 40% for new homes built from 2006.

The Government is also announcing a wide-ranging review to look at improving energy efficiency standards of existing buildings.

Yvette Cooper, housing and planning minister, says: “We are driving up standards for new homes so that housing can do its bit to combat climate change. These new standards are good news for consumers’ energy bills and for the environment too.

“This is the latest in a line of improvements ranging from refurbishing social housing to tightening boiler regulations which are helping to cut carbon emissions. It shows that we can build new homes for the next generation, whilst improving protection for the environment as well.”

Part L of the Building Regulations sets out standards for building work in order to conserve fuel and power and minimise heat loss, raising energy efficiency standards through the use of more energy efficient materials and methods. The measures are performance-based which allows house builders flexibility about how the new standards are met.

Elliot Morley, environment minister, says: “I welcome this important step to improve the energy efficiency of buildings which will not only cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions but will save people money on their fuel bills.

“These measures will improve energy efficiency in buildings hugely, essential if we are going to meet our targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

“Every sector of society has to play a part in the effort to combat climate change, including the building industry by promoting energy efficient products and design.”

To ensure a high level of compliance and understanding of the new regulations ODPM is introducing nationally recognised qualifications for surveyors and will be promoting the development of self-certification schemes for Part L schemes to improve regulation.

The ODPM has already put in place a training and information programme.

To maximise the impact of Building Regulations on climate change these measures are being brought forward by two years from 2008 to April 2006.

This includes a deferral of three months from the implementation date set out in the Energy White Paper, to give the building industry sufficient time to prepare.

In addition, from April 2006 all new residential development receiving government funding will need to meet a new national Code for Sustainable Buildings.

The Code will go beyond Building Regulations covering not just fuel and power but also the efficient use of water, ensuring much higher sustainability standards.

The government is also concerned to further improve energy efficiency in existing buildings. Households are responsible for about 30% of total UK energy use.

It has already improved energy efficiencies in existing buildings through more efficient replacement boilers and windows, and the Decent Homes programme, which has achieved substantial savings of carbon emissions per year through the refurbishment of social and rented housing.

ODPM will be leading a review, in conjunction with HM Treasury, Department of Trade and Industry and DEFRA, to identify measures to increase the sustainability of existing dwellings. The review will start urgently with a view to consulting stakeholders in spring 2006.

Consequential amendments for existing housing stock will not be implemented through these new Part L regulations.

Instead, building regulations will be considered alongside other issues including the role of possible incentives, voluntary initiatives and Home Information Packs.