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Part L: understanding what the changes mean for you

CITB head of new business Tony Howard assesses the recent announcements on Part L of the Building Regulations and what they mean for construction businesses in terms of low-carbon skills.

For many in the construction industry, the road to zero carbon feels long and winding. But there is no doubt that keeping firms’ low-carbon skills and knowledge up to date is a critical piece of the jigsaw.

The announcement from government at the end of July about how and when Part L requirements will change was a milestone many in the industry have been watching for.

Although we would have welcomed a greater uplift, the higher targets are a positive step and the industry is clearer on the impact of government policy on building standards.

Preparing your firm for low-carbon work

Construction firms across the UK of all sizes are already winning work thanks to their low-carbon skills and qualifications.

There are many other firms, however, that are not yet prepared for the new ways they will need to work, either to meet the new Part L requirements or to continue winning work in an increasingly low-carbon industry.

“Businesses that do not take active steps to upskill in low-carbon building, and cannot demonstrate they can meet Part L, risk missing out on a huge amount of work”

Contractors of all sizes must ensure they understand what the new Part L regulations demand and they must know how to meet them – up-to-date knowledge of materials and approaches for improved fabric efficiency, for example.

The Cut the Carbon portal provides some great information on training and courses available.

Businesses that do not take active steps to upskill in low-carbon building, and cannot demonstrate they can meet Part L, risk missing out on a huge amount of work.

And the changes to Part L are representative of the wider picture for construction; private and public-sector clients are increasingly asking for improved carbon footprints for all types of buildings and structures.

Firms that can demonstrate they have low-carbon skills such as installing insulation, solar panels, biomass boilers and draught proofing will be in a good position to benefit.

Immediate opportunities

The changes to Part L are set to come into force in April 2014, but firms with the right low-carbon skills and qualifications can make the most of more immediate green opportunities.

The government’s Renewable Heat Incentive for non-domestic buildings, the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation schemes are well under way. 

There are also opportunities with homeowners who are using Green Deal assessments, then financing the recommended work themselves rather than through the Green Deal scheme.

There are still areas of the drive towards zero carbon where greater clarity is needed from government – not least allowable solutions.

But low-carbon work opportunities are already there for the taking and the updates to Part L in April 2014 should drive firms of all sizes to upskill. Those that aren’t taking action now risk missing out on valuable revenue in the coming months and beyond.

For more information on low-carbon policy, skills and training, visit www.cutcarbon.info

Tony Howard is head of new business at CITB

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