The construction industry has just a few more weeks to respond to the government’s proposed revisions to Parts L and F of the Building Regulations – the first step towards its Future Homes Standard

Insulation specialist Actis has been working with the Structural Timber Association (STA) on the organisations’ responses to the building regulations proposals, which, once amended, are expected to come into effect in the latter half of 2020.

Stricter energy efficiency for new homes

The revised building regulations will act as a stepping stone towards the far more stringent energy efficiency requirements for new homes to be laid down under the forthcoming Future Homes Standard, which should be in place by 2025.

That, in turn, will play a key role in enabling the UK to meet its 2050 net-zero target.

The 98-page MHCLG Part L and Part F consultation document asks for feedback from individuals and companies working in the construction industry on a range of proposals covering energy performance, airtightness, ventilation and relevant routes to compliance.

It also looks at transitional arrangements to ensure builders can’t evade revised rulings by obtaining planning permission before changes are implemented and building to retrospective standards too long afterwards.

Reduced Target Emission Rate

A key section of the building regulations document sets out two alternatives for a reduced Target Emission Rate – a choice of a 20% or 31% CO2 reduction.

While Actis’ UK and Ireland technical director Thomas Wiedmer and his colleagues, understandably, support the more stringent option they are suggesting greater focus on the principle of fabric first and recommending that the government-proposed U-values for walls be improved from a target of 0.26 to 0.22 or 0.21 W/m2K.

The government document suggests the lighter option, supported by the STA, could be delivered via very high fabric standards, while its more hardcore alternative would have slightly less stringent fabric requirements and the addition of technology such as solar pv panels.

This scenario would add an estimated average of £4, 847 to the build costs and save the householder £257 per year on heating bills.

2050 CO2 emissions target

That would give the industry five years to wean itself towards the government’s 2025 aim of reducing CO2 emissions from new homes by 75-80% compared with current levels.

Wiedmer commented: “We and the STA are of the opinion that energy efficiency standards should always be based on reducing the need for energy first and in particular limiting the heat loss through thermal elements – that is through achieving excellent U-values, reducing thermal bridging and improving airtightness – the fabric first principle.

“Reducing the heating energy demand through a fabric first approach is the only practical way to achieve net-zero carbon homes in reality.”

Revised Part L building regulations

Actis and the STA are also supporting the MHCLG’s call to include build quality guidance into the revised Part L building regulations to help builders eliminate the performance gap and reduce thermal bridging – two issues on which Actis is very proactive.

The deadline for responses to the consultation document is 7 February 2020.

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