Getting up to speed for 2010

Three years on from the last set of revisions to the Building Regulations in 2006, the HVAC industry is once again in a position where further changes to the Building Regulations are going to be made as 2010 fast appraoches.  This is not the end though, as more will follow in 2013 as the Government steps up its energy efficiency drive to make all new homes zero carbon by 2016 and all new non domestic buildings zero carbon by 2019.

The question now must be how, as an industry, can we ensure we are best placed to meet and exceed these legislative changes so we are better placed to not only comply with the regulations when they come into force, but also take advantage of the opportunities available.

The key is information.  Whether you are a manufacturer, specifier, contractor or installer, we must have access to the right information, at the right time and in the right place.  This will go a long way to ensure a smooth transition when the changes are implemented next year and beyond.

Impact on the industry

Whilst the final document is yet to be published, there is enough information out there to make some assumptions on how the legislation changes will impact on building service engineers.

What we do know is when the 2010 revisions are published they are likely to be far easier to deal with than when previous changes have been made.   This can mainly be attributed to the fact that carbon emissions and energy efficiency weren’t necessarily on everyone’s radar when previous changes were introduced.  However, over the last few years in particular, climate change has risen to the top of the political and news agenda, putting energy efficiency at the front of mind in everything we do.  

So what are the main implications of the revisions to the Building Regulations in 2010?

It is clear they will closely follow the standards set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes, which will take us to level three and bring the UK on a par with European legislation.  This means that carbon emission levels permitted for both new homes and non-domestic dwellings will be cut by a further 25% next year compared to 2006 levels.

To apply this, two possible options have been proposed.  The first is the Flat approach, which requires every building to make a 25% improvement.  However, Xpelair believe the second option – the Aggregate approach would be much more effective as different buildings have differing energy requirements.  This would mean some buildings could achieve a less than 25% improvement whilst others a higher improvement dependent on the building type.

Raising the bar

In terms of raising the energy performance of buildings, the main focus for Part L 2010 is on improving detailed design.  To ensure compliance, firstly, designers will have to submit a commissioning plan at the beginning of a project to make sure systems perform as they are intended.  In addition, design specifications will have to be submitted so it can be checked by building control officers against original spec.  This will ensure both the design and construction processes are subject to more rigorous control.

To do this, Part L looks at making further improvements to the fabric of the building and increasing levels of insulation.  It also takes into account stricter procedures to check if solar gains are excessive to avoid overheating, particularly as this could lead to increased demand for air conditioning, which would be detrimental to reducing emissions if this wasn’t addressed.  Finally, air leakage will have to be reduced.

This leads us nicely on to Part F.  In essence, with Part L encouraging more airtight buildings, it was essential the Government looked at making changes to Part F at the same time to ensure adequate ventilation was provided for dwellings and a comfortable indoor air quality could be maintained.

With this in mind, greater ventilation provisions are recommended for buildings with design air permeability tighter than or equal to 5m3/(h.m2) at 50Pa.

The new proposals also aim to improve the installation and commissioning of ventilation systems so they perform to design specifications.  This includes all systems (whether natural or mechanical) being inspected and commissioned, air-flow measurements for mechanical ventilation in new dwellings made on-site and a checklist to be completed by the installer and given to the building control body as evidence that the installation and commissioning has been carried out properly.

Meeting noise limits

Other key revisions include type-testing systems that are continuously running to show they meet specified noise limits and providing the owner/occupier sufficient information about the system and how to maintain it effectively to ensure adequate airflow.  In addition, it is proposed that trickle ventilators should be fitted in all replacement windows.  To help building service engineers comply, a new guide has also been produced covering installation and commissioning for domestic ventilation systems.

Overall, Xpelair believes the changes to Part L and F are another major milestone in continuing to increase the efficiency of the UK’s building stock and most importantly for our industry, drive low carbon ventilation up the agenda. 

Ultimately, it is no longer about installing a fan, it’s about providing a solution that will offer maximum benefits for end-users and perform to the desired requirements.  This will result in continued demand for central extract or home ventilation systems.  These solutions have been increasing in market share in recent years over the more traditional intermittent ventilation products based on their low energy, quieter and more aesthetically pleasing characteristics, along with their ability to cater to specific projects dependent on the needs of the end-user.

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