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Friday, July 1, 2022

The New Part L

 

Chris Birch discusses how changes to Part L affect professional architects

 

With early details of the new Building Regulations Part L 2013 now released, and an even greater jump in standards needed in the future to achieve zero carbon homes in 2016 and non-domestic buildings in 2019, there are some key points affecting architects in particular.  

 

In design terms, the new targets are not particularly challenging. New homes (albeit not applied equally to all dwelling types) will need to target an average 6% cut in carbon emissions over 2010 levels while the target for non-domestic buildings is on average 9% below the current regulations. According to the DCLG the new regulations will save 6.4 million tonnes of CO2 out of the estimated 246 million tonnes that are emitted by UK buildings per year (that??s 2.6 per cent). For architects who have been targeting Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH) level 4 or BREEAM Excellent buildings, you will already be well versed in achieving these targets.  

 

For architects, probably the most significant change is the proposed introduction of Fabric Energy Efficiency (FEE) standards for homes. The FEE has been used in the CfSH (credit Ene2) since November 2010 and aims to minimise heat loss from the building envelope. The FEE target varies per dwelling type and will require architects to consider in more detail the specification of low u-value windows, better wall insulation with reduced cold bridging and less air leakage.   In Hilson Moran??s experience, FEE can be straightforward to achieve for some dwelling types, but there are others, such as end terrace apartments, for which it can be a challenge. Overall, however, the intention of the FEE is a good one, especially if it promotes a more sustainable fabric first design approach and discourages the practice of over-specifying renewables as a quick but costly excuse for deficient low carbon design.

 

Another positive is that the changes will undoubtedly force even greater design coordination between architect, structural and building services engineer. Concept stage discussions with the whole design team will allow the orientation, fabric and form of the scheme to be optimised and the energy strategy to be agreed, reducing risks to project viability, planning success and programme.  

 

Furthermore, although the assessment tools have yet to be released, it is likely that the new targets will force the use of more sophisticated dynamic thermal modelling to demonstrate compliance. 

 

These areas are just an overview, however more detailed regulations are planned for April 2014 and with a general election and the associated uncertainty expected in the following year, the more that professional teams can take on board now, the smoother the transition to the new standards should be. 

 

About Chris:

 

 

 

Chris is Director within Hilson Moran??s sustainability group, responsible for its day-to-day management in the UK. He started working for Hilson Moran in 2002, was promoted to divisional director in 2007 and to Director in 2012. Chris has over 21 years?? experience as a sustainability consultant, having previously worked at CES (now AECOM), Entec UK and WSP Environmental. His main areas of expertise are sustainable masterplanning, environmental impact assessments, green building design, air quality and human health risk assessment. He??s also an experienced planning inquiry expert witness.

 

 

 

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