Building Regs changes draw widespread condemnation

Government changes to Part L the Building Regulations have drawn criticism from all sides of the energy industry.

According to the Department of Communities and local Government new energy standards will cut £200 on typical new homes’ fuel bills and large businesses over £60k, compared to build standards before 2010. 

The changes will also further cut carbon emissions, help tackle climate change and ensure the government is on track to deliver the Budget commitment for zero carbon homes from 2016 in England, according to DCLG.

The measures coming into force in April 2014 mean new homes and non domestic buildings will have to include energy saving features such as better fabric insulation and more efficient heating and lighting.

Communities Minister Don Foster said: “The toughened up measures announced today in Parliament - “Part L of the Building Regulations” - following consultation mean a 6 per cent cut in carbon emissions for new build homes, and a 9 per cent cut for non domestic buildings.

The small increase in construction costs will be heavily outweighed by subsequent energy savings, meaning today’s measures will create a £384 million net saving for people and businesses over the average lifetime of the new features.

However, Knauf Insulation is warning that there will be grave implications for the drive towards zero carbon homes.

The company said the changes will come into in effect in April 2014 – six months later than previously expected, a delay that will seriously hamper efforts to achieve zero carbon for all new homes by 2016.

What’s more, the changes fall short of the improvements laid out in the initial consultation, believes Knauf. The energy efficiency standards for new homes have been scaled back to just six per cent above the 2010 regulations (as opposed to the eight per cent figure recommended in the original consultation), while the requirements for non-domestic properties have more than halved from a 20 per cent improvement to only nine per cent (again compared to 2010 standards.)

John Sinfield, managing director of Knauf Insulation Northern Europe, commented: “This delay is yet another example of the ‘greenest government ever’ dragging its feet when it comes to making any real or decisive changes towards improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock.  Indeed, the whole timescale for achieving zero carbon is in danger of being derailed by Government delays and setbacks.”

The Solar Trade Association expressed its disappointment Government’s watering down of carbon targets for new properties The STA wanted to see a convincing step towards reaching ‘Zero Carbon’ standards in 2016.

STA chief executive, Paul Barwell said: “It's depressing to see so little leadership from central Government in transforming how we build homes in the UK. It is hard to see how such modest improvements in building energy performance will get us to full Zero Carbon standards in 2016 – just three years away.

“Given the current volatility of energy bills, homeowners are ill-served by policies that fail to drive established renewable heat and power generation technologies in new homes. Neither can we see how such modest Part L changes will help the construction industry to develop the skills it needs to build genuinely low or zero carbon homes.”


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