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Energy targets drive building regs change

MATERIALS Government gives contractors and producers three months to respond to proposed building regs shake-up

CONTRACTORS and manufacturers have three months to compile responses to the latest proposed revision to energy efficiency rules.

They must respond to possible amendments to Building Regulations Part L (Energy Efficiency) by October 22, after the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published its proposals last week.

In it the government outlined how it planned to slash the energy consumption of new buildings by as much as 25 per cent in an attempt to improve efficiency standards and tackle climate change.

The main changes in the latest revision split the document into four approved areas, L1A, L1B, L2A and L2B, covering new dwellings, existing dwellings, new buildings other than dwellings and existing buildings other than dwellings.

According to the ODPM the split is in response to the construction industry's request for recognition of the separate markets for building work.

It also recommended dropping the elemental and target U-value methods, which calculate energy efficiency through the sum performance of a building's individual elements, in favour of a performance target for each new building.

Tests would be carried out to show the built structure had reached the target.

Model designs that comply with the latest regulations will be made available for use to those small builders that do not have design capabilities, although the ODPM underlined that it was down to industry associations to work out the specifications for these standard designs.

Construction Products Association industry affairs director John Tebbit said that it had volunteered to help draw up the new designs.

He said: 'We will be holding further talks with the ODPM to help develop template designs for simple structures.'

But Mr Tebbit was pleased the ODPM had taken on board advice from the various industry advisory groups and claimed the targets it had set out were 'achievable but challenging' .

Announcing the changes in a written statement to Parliament, building regulations minister Phil Hope said: 'Driving up the energy efficiency of our buildings is critical to our success in achieving the carbon emission reduction targets in the energy white paper.'

Following its consultation period the new document is unlikely to be adopted before the beginning of 2006.