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Industry must wait for Part L changes

The long wait for approved documents for amendments to Part L of the building regulations is now expected to continue until well after the election, according to industry sources.

The legal framework and approved documents for Part L – the conservation of fuel and power – were last revised by amendments that came into effect on 6 April 2006.

The Government this month published responses to its consultation on new amendments to Parts L, F and J of the building regulations, which aim to make buildings 25 per cent more efficient than 2006 levels.

The changes, which will come into effect on 1 October this year, will save around 2 million tonnes of carbon every year by 2020.

But it had been expected that approved documents from the Department for Communities and Local Government would be available this month setting out exactly what the industry needs to do to comply following the amendments.

Sources said the HVAC and construction industry would now be waiting until well after the General Election on 6 May and possibly as late as Parliament’s summer recess in July.

Mel Starrs, principal consultant at sustainability specialist consultant Inbuilt, said: “It will be at least May before we see the approved documents.

“If it runs as late as the summer recess then there is no way anybody will be ready for October.”

She added: “The approved documents will set out exactly what is expected of the industry. It is all speculation at the moment.”

According to a breakdown of the responses to the consultation, the majority of mainstream building industry professionals who contributed were in favour of the tightening up.

They also agreed that a flat 25 per cent reduction rate for all domestic dwellings made  sense and agreed with proposals to introduce an “aggregate approach” for non-domestic dwellings.

The proposed regulations allocate different carbon reduction targets for different building types depending on how hard this is to achieve, with the idea the total reduction for all non-dwellings averages 25 per cent.

There were some concerns that the proposed 36 per cent reduction for industrial buildings was too high, and could mean fewer of this type of building would be constructed. The Communities Department has also released the results of the impact assessments which show how the costs of the changes affect the industry.

The Part L impact assessment stated that the costs of implementing higher standards will be more than outweighed by the energy savings for all building types. Changes to Part F are also likely to go ahead.

DECC suggests on its website: “When the proposed energy efficiency standards in Part L are strengthened in 2010, there is likely to be a tendency to more
airtight buildings.

“It is therefore necessary to propose changes to Part F of the Building Regulations at the same time to ensure adequate means of ventilation are provided.”