What do changes to Building Regulations Part L mean for you?

On June 15, changes to Building Regulations England Part L (BREL) came into effect, setting new standards for energy efficiency. Let’s take a closer look at what’s new, and how it impacts your designs when you’re planning a new project.

Reducing emissions

This month’s heatwave was a stark reminder of why reducing emissions on the road to net zero is so important. Our existing infrastructure simply isn’t designed to cope with extreme weather, and we could all do more to reduce the emissions generated by buildings.

 Building Regulations Part L relates to how fuel and power are conserved in new homes in England. It sets benchmarks for how energy-efficient new builds and existing homes should be, and there are some changes in how it’s measured.

 From June, new homes must reduce emissions by 31% compared to previous targets, and other buildings must decrease emissions by 27%. This should be achieved by installing low carbon heating systems and switching to renewable energy sources where possible.

 These are interim steps towards the Future Homes Standard and Future Building Standard that will arrive in 2025. BREL has been divided into two volumes. Volume 1: Dwellings, and Volume 2: Buildings other than dwellings.

Changes to the SAP methodology

Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is used by the government to assess and compare the energy and environmental performance of dwellings. SAP methodology has also been updated to SAP 10.2  in line with BREL regulations. 

 The biggest change here is that carbon factors have been changed in Target Emissions Rate  (TER) calculations. In anticipation of the decarbonisation of the grid, electricity now has a lower carbon factor than gas, which will make it easier for buildings heated by electricity to comply with regulations. 

Primary energy

Energy from both renewable and non-renewable energy sources that hasn’t undergone any conversion or transformation processes is known as primary energy. This is a new metric to take into account when building homes, and can also be calculated using SAP 10.2. 

 Non-residential buildings will still use the National Calculation Method version 6.1.

How does this impact architects?

Architects are advised to emphasise a fabric-first approach to improve insulation and create air-tight spaces as much as possible. External walls are also expected to become thicker to accommodate more insulation. 

 As for windows, triple-glazed, high performing windows will become the norm. This is already a standard in many Nordic countries, so manufacturers will need to accommodate increasing demand. Keep in mind that heavier frames may both limit the size of openings and potentially impact usability. 

 When you’re drawing specifications for homes, keep in mind that they will all need to be air tested and onsite evidence of installation will be required. That means you’ll need to compile both a BREL report and capture photographic evidence.

 If you’re working on a development that isn’t a dwelling, there are two BREL reports required – one for ‘design’ and one for ‘as built’.

Get trusted advice

New regulations will impact your designs at an early stage, and you’ll need to consider how this will affect your budget. To learn more about the cost implications of adapting your designs in line with BREL, get in touch with our expert team on 020 7096 8235.

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