This week the Welsh Minster for Housing has given the clearest indication yet that Part L isn't going to be as much of a leap for the Welsh construction industry as first thought.
The statement from Carl Sargeant, confirms the next amendment to Part L will require a reduction in emission rates of just 8% against the current target. Originally, the reduction was intended to be 40%.
The released reads: “I have concluded that I will introduce, through amendments to Part L, a requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% from 2010 levels… I believe that this constitutes a balanced approach – improving our emissions position without undermining the objective to build.”
Currently in Wales it is a requirement for dwellings which are being built to the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH), to show an 8% reduction over the Target Emission Rate. On the face of it then, developers who are at the moment building to CSH Level 3 in Wales, will be building to a similar standard under Part L 2013. However, the unknown at this stage is the detail, particularly around limiting U values and the impact of changes to the SAP methodology, which will likely influence build specifications.
Previously The Assembly had come in for heavy criticism, most notably from Eric Pickles, who stated that the stringent proposals would further enhance the gap between build costs in England and Wales, leading to a decline in house building.
So for Wales, there are still no clues as to when Part L is going to change, what’s going to change, and whether the emission cuts for England are also going to be reduced to a similar level.
Ministers in Scotland are considering reducing emission rates by 21% for the new Section 6 regulations when it is updated next year.
A draft Part L document was expected to be publicly unveiled before Parliament went on summer break, however nothing has been released to date, which has prompted many developers to question how they can plan next year’s projects without any clear indication of the energy efficiency goals.
Wales currently uses the same Approved Documents as England, but this is set to change when Part L is released. It will be the first to feature English and Welsh versions. As other parts of Building Regulations are amended, these too shall become country specific.
It would be reasonable to assume the new Part L documents, when released, will not be significantly different between England and Wales, as this could have significant implications on the cost of house-building, particularly for those developers close to the border.
When the Communities for Local Government (CLG) released their Part L consultation document 18 months ago for England, one of the considered options was called a ‘FEEs plus efficient services’ approach. This technique was expected to show an 8% reduction in CO2 levels compared to 2010 standards and was stated to be the governments preferred option. However the consultation for the Welsh Part L specifically excluded FEEs, on the basis that limiting U values should be sufficient.
We’ll bring you more details on the changes to Part L in the coming weeks.