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Green Deal takeup set for boost under proposed new building regs

Building owners carrying out extensions and conversions to their properties could be forced to add energy efficiency improvements worth 10 per cent of the value of the initial improvements under new building regulation proposals.

Homeowners could be forced to carry out work that could fall under the Green Deal if they undergo routine work on their homes, under proposed changes to Part L building regulations.

Construction News first revealed the move in June 2011 as the government considered a return to consequential improvements as part of its response to the Innovation and Growth Team’s Low Carbon Construction report, led by chief construction adviser Paul Morrell.

The government’s 2012 consultation on building regulations Part L proposes to maintain current regulatory feasibility tests and cites 10 per cent of the value of principal works being carried out on a property as a guide to a value of the energy efficiency works needed to be carried out to meet any new regulatory requirement.

The government has outlined two options; the first where the requirements are introduced in October 2012 in tandem with introduction of Green Deal, or its preferred phased approach with consequential improvements triggered where an existing home is extended, or has its energy use or habitable space increased from October 2012.

The same requirement in relation to smaller non-domestic buildings, plus requirements on replacement boilers and windows and any requirements on replacement of components and fittings in non-domestic buildings would be introduced from April 2014.

Consequential improvements are already required for buildings over 1,000 sq m which have an extension added.

The news comes amid concerns over Green Deal take up this year, with the scheme set to launch in October 2012. Industry has predicted that take-up will be poor in 2012 and 2013, with the government set to reveal the form £200m in incentives will take as part of the budget in March.

The Part L consultation states: “The reason for proposing these changes now is to recognise the urgency of reducing emissions from the existing building stock, and, in a time of rising energy prices, to make homes and non-domestic buildings easier and cheaper to heat.”

It would also take advantage of a new market mechanism which has the potential to remove some of the existing barriers to action – the Green Deal.

It further states:

The central proposal is that the Regulations would (for all of the triggers discussed below) only require consequential improvements which were technically, functionally and economically feasible. The guiding principles in developing these proposals are that:

a. Consequential improvements should be required only when defined notifiable building work is already planned

b. Green Deal finance should be an option to offset any upfront costs (should the building owner wish to choose this financing route)

c. The consequential measures should be in proportion to the nature and cost of the original work.

However the document states that the regulatory requirements for consequential improvements would not be explicitly tied to the Green Deal.

Homeowners could demonstrate compliance through alternative means including carrying out recommended improvements in a valid Energy Performance Certificate and the government confirmed minor improvement works such as decorating or replacement of minor fixtures and fittings would not trigger consequential improvements.

The government is proposing to apply the requirements for consequential improvements to all existing domestic buildings which undergo works to add an extension, and also apply it to increases in habitable space (i.e. loft and integral garage conversions).

For homes it is proposing to limit this to the replacement of a boiler or a percentage of the home’s windows.

Government’s indicative timetable

Summer 2012: Regulations on consequential improvements for domestic extensions laid in Parliament

October 2012: Consequential improvements for domestic extensions come into force

April 2013: Regulations on new build standards, performance standards for works to existing buildings and other consequential improvements laid in Parliament

October 2013: New build standards and performance standards for works to existing buildings come into force

April 2014: Other consequential improvements (domestic boiler and window replacements, and specified other nondomestic works) come into force

Communities minister Andrew Stunell said: “For new buildings, the changes represent the next step towards zero carbon by tightening carbon dioxide compliance targets and for new homes they also introduce a new mandatory target for fabric energy efficiency and proposals to further improve compliance and as built performance.

“They also contain proposals to strengthen energy efficiency standards for existing properties and introduce requirements for additional - consequential - energy efficiency improvements where work is already planned, and the Green Deal is available to meet up-front costs.”

“Responses can be provided on the consultation proposals up until 27 April, except for responses on the proposals for regulatory changes triggering consequential improvements which must be made by 27 March 2012.

The consultation proposals cover four sections:

Section one - Parts A, B (including Local Acts), C, K, M and N, Access Statements, security, Changing Places toilets and Regulation 7
Section two - Part L (Conservation of fuel and power)
Section three - P (Electrical safety - dwellings)
Section four - the building control system.

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