Does net-zero start today?

15 Jun 22

The uplift will drive improved energy efficiencies in new and existing buildings, marking the start of an upskilling phase that will prepare the industry for the introduction of full net zero-ready standards in 2025.

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An uplift to Part L of the new Building Regulations (confusingly known as Part L:2021) comes into force today.

It represents a flagship moment in the drive to improve energy efficiency in buildings and a stepping stone to the Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standard policies, which will come into force in 2025. Read our detailed briefing note here.

The uplift will drive improved energy efficiencies in new and existing buildings, marking the start of an upskilling phase that will prepare the industry for the introduction of full net zero-ready standards in 2025.

In line with previous updates to the Building Regulations, Part L:2021 sets out more stringent requirements with respect to building fabric and systems efficiencies, helping to increase carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction.

New dwellings built to the interim standard will produce 31% less CO2 emissions than those built to the previous standard. Non-domestic buildings, meanwhile, are expected to produce 27% less CO2 emissions.

To support the uplift to Part L, the modelling software and methodology used to calculate energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions has also been updated. This will ensure that the recent progress made to decarbonise the national grid will be accounted for, and sees the introduction of new performance metrics that measure the energy demand of new buildings, the associated CO2 emissions, the efficiencies of the building fabric and fixed building services.

In most cases, the new standards will supersede and increase existing carbon reduction targets set out in local policies. However, we may also see some local authorities exercising their right to set even tighter requirements in line with climate emergency and net zero commitments.

In a move to minimise the planning-related impact of an interim uplift in standards, transitional arrangements have been put in place. These relate to individual buildings as opposed to an entire site, so as to avoid people gaming the system. A building notice or deposited plans must have been submitted before 15th June 2022, and works must commence on each individual building before 15th June 2023, for the project to continue building to the previous Part L:2013 standard.

New Approved Documents have also been published in support of the update to the Building Regulations. Read our briefing note to find out more about Approved Documents L: Conservation of fuel and power, F: Ventilation, and O: Overheating.

Eagle-eyed readers will observe that even the full 2025 standards do not target a 100% reduction in emissions. Whilst the changes are a step in the right direction, the end goal of Net Zero is still heavily reliant on grid decarbonisation. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on that trajectory.

If you have any queries on these changes, or would like to discuss the implications for your project, please get in touch.

Alex Green Director,Iceni Futures
Grace Wileman Senior Consultant,Iceni Futures