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Settled in with the new Part L? Good – here’s what’s changing next!

CLG (the Community for Local Government) is currently asking for comments about the new proposals, which will affect SAP Calculations, EPCs, SBEM (for commercial), building extensions, energy statements and the Code for Sustainable Homes.

So, what are the proposals?

I've got 600 words to summarise 95 pages - here we go!

One of the biggest plans is to roll out ‘consequential improvements' to all extension projects - both domestic and commercial. This currently only applies if you want to extend a commercial building which is larger than 1,000sqm. This means that you will need to ring-fence part of your overall budget (currently set to 10%) to renovate the existing building. This could become a legal requirement before the end of the year. The idea of consequential improvements may also be extended to renovation work as well as extensions (for example, if you want to change your boiler, you might need to upgrade your glazing also. These are still muddy waters which need more definition and guidance, but it is widely anticipated that the Government's flagship ‘Green Deal will play a part in this).

Since SAP became mandatory in 2006, there has been a ‘loophole' in the calculations which means the installation of a heat pump is more likely to fly through the emission rate targets than anything else. Some builders are using this anomaly to save on building fabric, and this has led to a discrepancy where homes with heat pumps are not being insulated and constructed as well as homes with conventional gas boilers. 2013 Regulations will aim to stop this by adjusting the Target Emission Rate (TER) so that all houses are built to a similar standard regardless of the heating used.

While on the subject of emission rates, the consultation suggests 2013 emission targets are lowered to just over 25% (on average) for new domestic buildings, and anywhere from 11 – 20% for commercial. (This difference can be explained because the zero carbon goal for dwellings is 2016, compared to 2019 in the commercial sector).

There are calls for a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) to be introduced. This is a new Code of Practice / Quality Assurance type scheme to ensure homes are being built well, and to bridge the gap between what the Design SAP says and what the As Built house actually achieves. It is recommended that a penalty of 3% is applied to the calculated emission rate of a house if it is not built to this standard (although what this ‘standard' is and how you achieve it hasn't been confirmed yet).

Once changes to Part L are agreed, the Code for Sustainable Homes guidance is likely to be adjusted to reflect changes to the emission rates - consultation is due out in the next few months with the aim of launching alongside the 2013 Part L changes.

Regular blog-readers will be aware that more and more councils in the UK are pushing developers to improve on current Part L targets by 10 - 20% through the use of feasible, renewable technology. Widely known as Energy Statements, these documents fall outside Building Regulations, and depend entirely on the planning office at your local council. These planning conditions could be ‘subject to viability testing' to make sure the authority isn't being unrealistic, and effectively using this to discourage building in their patch.

So, what happens next?

These points and more are open for public comments for another month or so, and the CLG will then write the new Part L for next year.

As you'd expect from Energist, we're going to keep on top of this - it's what we do! Contact us on 08458 386 387 if you want to find out about our seminar and training services.

Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 16.02.2012.