UK BR Part L: What does the future hold?

The main driver for UK legislation remains the Climate Change Act to reduce total emissions by 80% by 2050.

Changes to BR Parts L & F contribute towards this in a three pronged attack by setting tougher standards, improving compliance and improving tools and procedures.

A Ministerial Statement on 16/12/2010 outlined the work required for the 2013 BRs. This included:

  • 2013 BR will represent the next step towards zero-carbon building.
  • Provisions will be considered for the existing stock.
  • Higher levels of compliance will be ensured, looking at enforcement and incentives.

The UK already has a zero-carbon goal for non-domestic buildings by 2019. This suggests a continued aggregate 20% reduction in 2013, 2016 and 2019 against the 2002 baseline.

Lynne Sullivan, RIBA wanted to see cost option appraisals developed, so fabric improvements could be compared to active systems. Lynne also wanted to see greater understanding of the implications for constructors and users, and for better accredited details.

Renovation

The current 1,000m2 limit has been dropped from the ‘Recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive’. Governments are required to introduce requirements to introduce requirements for renovation of the building as a whole. This may include the upgrading of individual elements as well as the whole. This must be enacted by 9 January 2013 for public buildings and by 9 July 2013 for private buildings.

Additionally, Governments must ensure buildings undergoing major renovation it meets minimum energy performance requirements, and that alternative heating systems are encouraged.

Energy Assessments

The ‘Recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive’ requires public buildings frequently visited by the public and over 500m2 to display energy performance certificates (currently Display Energy Certificates (DECs) in the UK) by 9 January 2013; and under 250m2 by 9 July 2013. These will also be mandatory for many larger private sector buildings.

Roger Hitchin, BRE at Ecobuild noted that Display Energy Certificates (DECs) in come other EU countries triggered improvement plans if energy consumption was high.

All advertisements in commercial media concerning a building, or part of it, offered for sale or lease must state the energy performance from the certificate by 9 January 2013. Robert Corbyn, LCEA at Ecobuild suggested that Agents rather than landlords may become responsible for EPC production from as early as 1 July 2011. Also reported that the Government were considering combining EPCs and DECs.

Compliance

EPCs

A survey by Elmhurst Energy in October 2010 found the compliance level to be 35%. In 2007 there were 440,000 sales and leases of non-domestic properties yet only 223,000 commercial EPCs were lodged from Feb 2010 to Feb 2011, suggesting compliance in the order of 50%.

Enforcement has been woeful. There have been 7000 enquiries to Trading Standards yet only 14 TSOs out of 200 carried out any inspections. In three years only 23 penalty notices have been issued. A poor return from the £7.2m provided specifically to support enforcement.

It is to be hoped that the need for EPC ratings to be stated in commercial adverts and the possibility of agents being responsible will have a positive impact on compliance.

The supply chain view

A survey by the Construction Products Association, reported by John Tebbit at Ecobuild, raised lack of enforcement as an issue for suppliers. Without enforcement suppliers had less certainty of a return on their investment developing higher performing elements, services and low carbon technologies. John reported further that there was a feeling that builders were ‘getting away with it’. The change with BR 2010 where ‘as designed’ and ‘as built’ Part L compliance assessments was seen as hugely positive.

However, John reported real concern about the Notional building. Specifically setting unrealistic targets for small buildings. This was a problem for designers and there is real concern about likely 2013 targets.

For the next 2013 revision John was looking for better co-ordination between industry, Part L contractors and the DCLG.

Air conditioning

Air conditioning inspections have been largely disregarded by occupiers. One estimate put the compliance level at 4% (Mike Dankiwell, Space Airconditioning PLC). Concern has been raised but I have not picked up any specific suggestions on what might happen.

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