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Training call for Part L inspectors

MATERIALS - BRE claims energy ef. ciency regs enforcers need speci. ed set of qualifications

ATTEMPTS to improve the energy efficiency of buildings could fail unless strict guidelines for building inspectors are drawn up.

David Strong, managing director at research body BRE Environment, said that enforcing the new Part L of the building regulations would be difficult without clear guidance to help show that inspectors were capable of carrying out calculations and tests to verify energy efficiency.

He called for the setting up of a training, qualifications or quality assurance process to approve inspectors.

Mr Strong said: 'A key objective of the Part L revision was to ensure greater compliance verification. Yet judgement as to the competence of the person carrying out an energy calculation or pressure test is left to the discretion of the Building Control body. Since there is no clear definition of what constitutes a qualified person and no specific training or qualification requirements this is unlikely to deliver improvements in verification or enforcement.' Mr Strong, who is also chairman of the industry advisory group for the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, said the short timeframe before the directive is implemented in January 2006 made this a cause for concern.

He said: 'The September ministerial statement on the revision of Part L and implementation of the EPBD remained silent on building energy labelling, plant inspection and the training and accreditation of independent experts. With less than four months remaining until the start of EPBD implementat ion this is very wor rying.' He added his voice to those concerned about the omission of regulations to force homeowners to improve the energy efficiency when building an extension.

In the 2004 consultation document for Part L it had been proposed that where a building is to be extended, steps must be taken to ensure the whole building conforms to energy efficiency guidelines.

These requirements have been omitted from the final approved document.

Mr Strong said: 'If it is abandoned it would be a huge missed opportunity.' n Construction News and the Construction Products Association are hosting a conference on the Approved Document L in London on December 7. For details call: 0845 0568069.