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Building regulations enforcement shake-up 'vital for sustainable construction'

UK Green Building Council has argued that Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review of building regulations must transform all areas of building specifications, including energy efficiency

Ensuring a stronger enforcement and inspection regime for construction standards as called for in Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building regulations will be a vital step to improve the sustainability of building services, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has said.

A spokesperson for the organisation said that the highly critical nature of Dame Judith’s findings, which call for a major overhaul of building regulations, was expected to significantly impact every area of building specification. This is expected to include energy efficient design and construction.

However, UKGBC said that efforts to ensure high standards of both fire safety and energy performance were not mutually exclusive functions and should be expected from customers as standard in any new building.

Dame Judith used her findings to push for a new approach to regulation that focuses on meeting clear outcomes that would allow industry to decide on the best way of meeting performance standards for systems such as HVAC appliances. This would mark a change from a ‘tick-box’ approach currently used in building design

UKGBC said that it would strongly endorse a move to outcomes-based regulation as a driver for industry devising more innovative and practical approaches to improve the environmental impacts of green initiatives.

UKGBC said in a statement, “Hackitt also identifies that better compliance needs to be driven by a much stronger inspection and enforcement regime.”

“She recommends a broader range of enforcement methods to secure compliance with the law and to ensure a proportionate response to any breaches of the regulations. This recommendation is relevant to the built environment as a whole and one which we fully support.”

UKGBC said it was also pushing to ensure all new buildings were built to net-zero carbon standards by 2030. Under these conditions, new constructions would have to curb energy use as much as possible, with all remaining power demands met through renewable sources.

The organisation’s calls for new energy performance standards have been backed by 50 business leaders as a means to try and address what they claim is a lack of significant change in regulations over the last half decade.

Building regs review

The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety was launched following the Grenfell Tower Fire last year. The release of the final report in May was hugely critical of the existing systems for ensuring buildings, particularly high risk, high rise properties, are secure and built as intended.

Industry bodies such as the Construction Products Association and BSRIA have backed full implementation of Judith Hackitt’s recommendations for a new regulatory approach.

However, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has argued that some recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s findings will fail to effectively protect public safety and improve competency in construction.

CIPHE CEO Kevin Wellman said the organisation had anticipated the review would have done much more to outline news ways of ensuring accountability within the construction and maintenance of high rise buildings.

He added, “The review has not gone far enough to immediately address the issues of competency, formal accreditation and regulation of those involved in the building and maintenance industries.”

“It looks, once again, like a missed opportunity when recommendations are restricted to only residential buildings above 10 storeys. Many of the regulatory failings apply equally to thousands more buildings both in size and in purpose. It is equally disappointing that once again there has been no recommendation for the wholesale adoption, including retrofit in existing buildings, of residential sprinkler systems.”


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