What changes can we expect in the construction industry in 2019?
Predicting what’s going to happen in political circles over the next twelve months feels like an impossible task. With so much focus on Brexit, and in-fighting between politicians it’s difficult to know with any certainty what’s happening next.
We’ve done our best to unpick some facts and rumours, and have produced this summary of the changes we think will have an impact in the construction industry over the next 12 months.
All recommendations made in the Hackitt Review will be taken forward
We can start by looking at a Government release which was snuck out in the week before Christmas. It has been confirmed that all recommendations in the Hackitt Review are being taken forward. The Hackitt Review was commissioned following events at Grenfell, and concluded with 50 key points for the Government to action.
The main focus of the report was on high-rise buildings, but nonetheless the recommendations included a complete rewrite of current building regulations, putting more responsibility onto the owners of high-rise buildings and restricting self-certification schemes.
Part B of the Building Regs has already been tweaked to clarify what types of cladding and combustible materials can be used on high-rises. We can expect to hear about more changes over the coming year.
SAP 10 emission factors will be adopted in the London Plan
Developers aren’t even being given the chance to have their first office-based coffee of the year without changes to their planning requirements.
From January, new planning proposals in London encourage the adoption of SAP10 emission factors, even though the rest of the new SAP methodology is still a work-in-progress document. This means new developments are going to suddenly jolt away from reliance on CHP networks, and turn towards heat pumps for providing heating and hot water.
The London Plan is currently going through a major overhaul, with lots of big changes expected to go live in 2020. This mini-update is seen as a temporary measure to bridge the gap while the bigger policy changes are ironed out.
As we write this, the plan for the end of March is for the UK to leave the European Union. If/when this happens, it should be business as normal in terms of building regulations. But Brexit will open the door for the UK’s nations to take out bits of the regulations that were only there because of EU directives.
One of the most familiar EU requirements is the Energy Performance Certificate. The Government has confirmed they intend to keep the EPC moving forward. Whether the next version of building regs will include details about High Efficiency Alternative System reports (HEAS) and targets for ‘nearly zero energy buildings’ remains to be seen.
Expected first draft of the new Part L
At some point in early 2019, we are expecting Westminster to release its first draft of a new Part L for England. This section of building regs covers the conservation of fuel and power. It will set out new rules for how SAP and SBEM calculations comply, how much insulation is required in buildings, and will also confirm new requirements for air tightness testing. It could also be expanded to consider overheating risks in new buildings.
By the time Part L is drafted, consulted on, rewritten and officially launched, we aren’t expecting a ‘go live’ date until 2020. It’s expected the Welsh Part L will be updated at a similar time.
Confirmation of the new London Plan content
Back to London, and we’re expecting the content of the new London Plan to be confirmed in the middle of the year. It’s expected the GLA will wait for confirmation about building regulation changes before releasing their final document. It’s not expected to go live until 2020.
Focus on air quality in our cities
Air quality in our cities is expected to come under more scrutiny during 2019, with the Government preparing to release a final version of its Clean Air Strategy. This document will cover rules of reducing pollutants across all walks of life from farming to transport.
In the construction industry, the Clean Air Strategy is expected to target the phasing out of oil and coal heating systems, reduce the amount of open fireplaces in use in our cities, and looking at ways of ensuring new developments don’t increase air pollution.
Stay up to date
There are plenty of updates and announcements expected in 2019, so stay with us to keep up to date with industry changes concerning energy efficiency, air quality and sustainable planning.