Can the new Part L be implemented?
When the new Part L of the Building Regulations comes into force at the end of 2005, the energy performance of new buildings should improve by about 25%. The consultation period has just ended, and it is clear that the skills of building-services engineers will be put to the test in reducing carbon emissions arising from heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting by a further 10% over the Part L that came into effect in April 2002. Combined with a requirement for renewable energy systems, the stage would seem to be set fair for a reduced energy consumption for buildings and, hence, lower carbon emissions. There are rumblings of concern, however, that expectations are being laid down but with too little guidance on how they will be met. The Building Regulations, particularly Part L, is the mechanism through which the requirements of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive will be delivered. The directive certainly takes a fundamentally different approach to the traditional Building Regulations in requiring the industry to develop solutions and then share knowledge and expertise throughout the industry. The Government is effectively laying down the rules but not supplying the resources and funding for the industry to carry out the development that is needed. The construction industry’s six research associations, including BSRIA, have been concerned for some time that Government funding is increasingly going to high-level research and that too little is being allocated to the kind of incremental research that leads to the development of design guidance. Regulations, however, well intended, will be of no benefit unless they can be implemented — and there are serious concerns that unless a significant programme of recruitment and training is put into place, building control officers, building surveyors and building-services engineers will be unable to implement many aspects of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.