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Election delays rules on energy efficiency

MATERIALS Planned ministerial statement pushed back to June as country goes to the polls

THE LONG-awaited changes to the UK's energy efficiency regulations have fallen victim to general election fever.

The Government had been expected to unveil its demands for the environmental performance of buildings to industry in a ministerial statement of intent in March but the run-up to the election got in the way.

It is now expected that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will deliver its statement on energy efficiency performance levels in early June.

This statement will effectively be the final draft of the new Building Regulations part L before the approved document is published, which is expected to happen before the summer recess.

Industry insiders are confident that the final approved document will not be held up despite the shortening of timescale between the ministerial statement and the anticipated late July publication of the approved document.

Amendments to part F of the building regulations, which covers ventilation in buildings, is also anticipated to be rolled out with the part L approved document.

John Tebbit, industry affairs director at the Construction Products Association, said: 'There is always a danger that the publication of the approved document may be shifted over until parliament returns after the summer recess but realistically this is unlikely.

'What the 'minded to' statement will give the industry is almost a final working draft. It will enable producers and contractors to base designs reasonably confidently.'

Mr Tebbit admitted that there was still some concern over the development of calculation tools designed to pinpoint the efficiency of non-domestic buildings.

He said: 'There is a big problem in that computer programmes designed to calculate efficiency levels for nondomestic buildings will not be fully available until after October.'

But some industry insiders complained that the proposals had been watered down by requiring a percentage improvement on energy-efficiency levels achieved in 2002, rather than efficiency levels suggested in the existing part L.

The criticisms anchor around figures used to calculate 2005 benchmarking levels for carbon efficiency through the effects of linear thermal bridging.

Some complained that those notional levels set for 2002 dwellings helped give a distorted figure for energy efficiency improvements in the 2005 figures.

Mr Tebbit said: 'There is a tenable line of argument but it is a judgement call for the ODPM.'

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