This month Government published updates to Part F and Part L of the Building Regulations, plus announced a new Part O which aims to mitigate overheating in new residential buildings.

The new measures to Part L are an interim uplift in energy efficiency standards, ahead of the Future Homes and Buildings Standards being introduced in 2025. Residential buildings will be required to cut carbon by 30% and will apply to all projects after 15th June 2022.

The changes will not apply to projects where building notice or full plans submitted to a local authority before 15th June 2022 provided that the building work is started before 15th June 2023. The new regulations will apply to all projects regardless from 15th June 2023.

Like many other organisations within industry, Good Homes Alliance believe the proposed standards do not go far or fast enough. We will be providing further opinion on the announcements and consulting with members in the new year.

“As shown within our progressive membership, organisations are already building and striving to deliver net zero now. Despite the announced interim uplifts and the incoming Future Homes Standard, we continue to challenge the Government’s lack of ambition for the sector’s journey to net zero. In addition, there is still no requirement for building performance evaluation and measurement of actual energy use compared to predicted.”

Julian Brooks, Programmes Director, Good Homes Alliance

We welcome the announcement of a Part O to address overheating risk and will be liaising with our technical associates in January 2022 to delve into the detail of the new standard and report back our findings. In the spring we will launch a retrofit version of our popular overheating risk tool and guidance, building upon our Overheating in New Homes tool launched in July 2019.

See some further quotes from our industry colleagues and members (courtesy of The Guardian article, 16 Dec):

“From a first glance it may seem that the interim uplift is positive. From the face of it, it looks like buildings under the 2021 uplift will emit 30% less carbon,” explained Clara Bagenal George from LETI, a network of 1,000 built environment professionals that are working together to put London on the path to a zero carbon future.

She argued that in fact, “due to the methodologies behind the regulation, this is more likely to translate into only a 5%-10% improvement in energy efficiency in practice”.

Joe Baker, head of carbon management at Haringey council, reacted on Twitter to the regulations, saying: “This is disappointing and lacks ambition. Industry experts, investors, and citizens have shared with the government what is possible and what they want to see. They have given examples of where development is delivering better building far beyond this proposal. Showing the benefits to the industry, investors, and building occupiers. However, their views, expertise, and experiences, have been disregarded for a lower standard.

“What happened to global Britain? Where is the global leadership in building a better zero carbon future? Using the UK’s skills and knowledge to deliver this ambition.”

Experts have also argued that the new commitments don’t require existing housing stock to be retrofitted, which would reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency.

Julie Godefroy at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, explained: “CIBSE had many concerns about the consultation proposals, including performance metrics, the treatment of heat networks and the lack of ambition to retrofit the existing stock. Some of these concerns have been partially addressed and, in some cases, government has adopted the most ambitious option from the consultation.

“However, the uplift is a significant missed opportunity to provide a meaningful step towards the future homes/buildings standard, and it risks adding to the legacy of buildings and networks which will need future retrofit.

“New buildings are the easiest part of decarbonising the built environment, so we must get it right, and there is huge industry support for net zero, which government must build on.”

Vanessa Scott, the climate change manager for West Oxfordshire district council, said: ‘‘At a local authority level, in order to achieve net-carbon homes, we needed government to be listening to experts and pushing forward with standards that will lead us towards this goal and sooner rather than later. Industry experts have shared with the government what is possible, but they have not been listened to.”

Further reading

Updates to building regulations announced

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