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Government commits to Building Regs IAQ rethink

FETA chairman Nick Howlett has expressed hope that pledge by MHCLG to consider revised ventilation standards will end lack of clear lead in Whitehall on subject

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has pledged to address industry concerns over current ventilation and indoor air quality standards (IAQ) as part of a forthcoming review of Building Regulations.

Nick Howlett, Chairman of the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA), said that there has previously been a “lack of a clear inter-departmental lead within government” to rethink standards set out in Approved Document F of current Building Regulations. These standards provide guidance on current legal requirements to ensure adequate ventilation systems are in place in different types of properties.

H&V News has previously reported on concerns from some building services experts on how the broad nature of requirements and limited enforcement in the regulations regarding IAQ is leading to widescale issues with ensuring proper ventilation and preventing potential negative health impacts.

Mr Howlett said organisations such as FETA have continued to try and highlight concerns around the complexity of IAQ to government.

He added that MHCLG had now given an assurance that they would look to review evidence on indoor pollutants and the possibility of recalculating ventilation rates in the review of regulations.

Mr Howlett was speaking during FETA’s annual lunch in London on April 11 where he touched on a range of issues facing the organisation and the building services sector.

This included the government’s proposal to set out a Future Homes Standard that will mean existing gas boilers and heating appliances are not be permitted for use in new build homes from 2025 onwards.

The pledge to rethink heating in line with the proposed revisions of homes standards has been announced alongside efforts to transform the country’s gas grid to a lower carbon, greener alternatives. Big questions therefore remain over what role gas heating may play in existing buildings and homes, as well as how to deliver.

Mr Howlett said FETA commended the government’s Clean Growth Strategy that seeks to transform the UK into a low carbon economy over the next three decades. The strategy has identified heating and cooling as the most pressing and significant challenge to meet national zero carbon aims.

He added, “Whilst generally encouraged by the vision emanating from the energy element within BEIS we do note the confusing signals being sent, not just to industry but ultimately to consumers.”

“I refer particularly to the announcement in the last budget that the Enhanced Capital Allowance (which is tied into the Energy Technology List) is soon to be phased out. This leaves the ETL in the same boat as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme – which has been key to the promotion of Heat pumps via the auspices of the MCS body.”

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