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Part L changes cause confusion for engineers

Consulting engineers are being confused by apparently conflicting requirements between local planning officers and the most recent changes to Part L of the Building Regulations, according to experts.

Although the carbon reduction targets set by the revised Part L (2013) are modest – just 6 per cent for new homes and 9 per cent for commercial buildings – they should improve insulation levels and this could reduce the effectiveness of renewables.

“Higher insulation standards will reduce the need for heat, but renewables depend on heat demand to operate,” said David Shaw, LZC national sales manager for Baxi Commercial Division.

“Therefore, regulators are making buildings less suitable for renewables, but local officials will withhold planning permission unless renewables are part of the design.”

Mr Shaw believes this is driving designers to make perverse technology choices that may not be in the interests of the building owner or operator.

“We are seeing terrible mis-matches because designers are getting confused – and even worse, they don’t always recognise the impact of making the wrong choices. It is important that designers make sure they are specifying an appropriate solution for the building and not just ticking boxes,” added Mr Shaw.

“It is very tempting to design for planning and forget that the building and the chosen technologies do actually have to work in harmony.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • This article is pretty misleading. Where authorities have a renewable energy requirement, this is expressed as % (usually 10%) reduction (post implementation of Part L requirements). Hence, the 2013 Part L improvement reduces the remaining % reduction that must be achieved via renewables. And no local authority demands that the renewable system must be heat producing (why not PV?). In any case, many authorities have moved away from renewables requirements to a simple % CO2 reduction beyond Part L (whether achieved with or without renewables). The 2013 Part L requirements were watered down from the original proposals to reach the energy requirement for Code Level 4 - so still plenty of scope for CO2 reduction whether from renewables or not.

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