Plans should be advanced as only one month left until new Building Regulations

Rob Gill, managing director of Leeds-based building physics engineering consultancy Yonder

It’s a month until new Building Regulations take effect in England and an expert has warned construction sector businesses their plans should now be well advanced.

Rob Gill, managing director of Leeds-based building physics engineering consultancy Yonder said the new rules would bring “seismic” changes to the industry.

He said: “The updated regulations will apply to new domestic and non-domestic buildings, plus existing constructions which undergo specific types of building work, such as the adding of extensions and installation of certain new materials or technologies.

“The rules set much higher standards in areas such as energy efficiency, lighting, and heating. Among other changes, they radically alter Part F, which provides guidance on ventilation, and effectively re-write Part L, which sets standards for energy performance and carbon emissions, for the first time since 2013.”

Mr Gill said the only new constructions to which the current rules could continue to apply after 15 June were those for which building notices, initial notices, or full plans had been supplied to relevant local councils before then. But even in these cases he said the concession would be granted to individual buildings, not necessarily whole sites, and only operate if construction work began by 15 June 2023.

He explained: “The government sees the new rules as a key step towards achieving the UK’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. They’ll compel emissions from new non-domestic properties to be cut by an average of 27 per cent, compared to the position if current regulations were retained.”

Yonder’s expertise includes advising construction professionals – such as developers, development managers and investors – on reducing their buildings’ carbon footprints. The company does this through optimising the structures’ use of natural sources, like the sun and wind, for purposes including heating, lighting, and ventilation, for example.

The firm is also an experienced assessor of compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations.

Mr Gill said: “Important changes the new rules introduce for new non-domestic buildings include higher minimum energy efficiency standards, such as lower U-values for walls and windows. New care homes, schools and student accommodation will also become subject to glazing limits, to cut surplus heat from the sun.

“The minimum efficacy of general and display lighting in all new non-domestic properties will also rise.”

Mr Gill added changes that would apply to existing, as well as future, non-domestic properties included reduced maximum flow temperatures for any new or replacement heating systems.

He added: “Other requirements affecting existing non-domestic premises include new controls having to be fitted to heating and hot water boiler systems, to improve efficiency, and carbon dioxide monitors becoming compulsory in offices.”

Mr Gill said in addition to these mandatory steps for non-commercial buildings, the regulations made certain recommendations. These included the installation of background trickle ventilators and a minimum air supply rate.

He said: “With only a month to implementation, the preparation of England’s construction industry professionals for the rules should now be well-advanced. Questions they need to address include not just those about on-site policies and issues but matters going right to the heart of their companies’ management and possibly survival.”

Mr Gill said industry professionals needed to consider whether existing suppliers and goods such as materials, fixtures and fittings would be appropriate under the new regime, for example. If not, they should be taking steps to source more suitable replacements and considering how these would be presented to customers.

He added: “Construction sector participants also need to answer questions such as how they’ll monitor their own and their sites’ compliance with the new rules, so they can avoid prosecutions by local authorities.

“Perhaps most importantly of all, there’s the issue of finance, as it’s likely the changes will generate cost increases, for example, which could be substantial in some respects. Industry players therefore need to gauge now how they’re likely to be affected and take any decisions needed, such as whether it’s feasible and desirable to pass on at least some of the increased prices they may pay to their customers.”

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