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Written Statement - Proposed Changes to Part L of the Building Regulations

Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration

Building Regulations Amendments

In July I announced a number of Government policies in relation to housing in Wales, which included my intentions to set the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for new homes by 8% (against 2010 standards).  This is only one element of my review of Part L of the Building Regulations.  Today I am pleased to announce my full intentions for improving the energy efficiency of all buildings in Wales.

Existing Homes

Existing buildings make-up the majority of homes in Wales and tackling emissions from these buildings is going to have a huge impact on our ability in Wales reduce our carbon emissions.  As part of the review of Building Regulations I am going to introduce a number of low cost changes to existing buildings when they undergo renovation or extension. These will help home owners keep the costs of heating their buildings down whilst improving homes in Wales.  

Part L will require all homeowners undertaking extensions or improvements such as a loft or garage conversion to meet improved fabric standards for walls, roofs and floors, whilst windows will remain at the current standard.  In addition we will also require ‘consequential’ energy efficiency improvements to the original building.

These improvements would be based on three cost effective solutions where suitable:

  • Minimum standard of loft insulation;
  • Cavity wall insulation; and
  • Minimum standard of hot water cylinder insulation

I also propose to introduce additional requirements that conservatories should not be heated or cooled if they are to be considered exempt from the Building Regulations. If a conservatory is heated or cooled then the relevant fabric and fixed building services requirements will apply.

Non Domestic Buildings

The built environment doesn’t just cover homes, non domestic buildings make a sizeable contribution to carbon emissions.  The places where we work and visit; offices, factories, warehouses, schools, hospitals and shops for example all contribute to Wales’ carbon emissions and account for approximately 21% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Wales and it is clear that improving the performance of non domestic buildings play a key part in achieving energy efficiency and climate change goals in Wales.

For new non domestic buildings, including schools and health buildings, I propose a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 Part L requirements.  This will be achieved through a mixture of improved fabric and building services standards and is likely in many situations to require renewable technologies such as solar panels.  

I recognise that ‘non domestic’ covers a wide range of building types and uses with a varied and complex proportion and distribution of energy use. I also acknowledge that the capacity of different building types and forms to reduce regulated energy is equally varied. I therefore intend to continue with the current aggregate approach by which targets are set in relation to energy use of different building types and uses.

The intended changes which were largely the basis of our earlier consultation received support from the industry and will allow a long term period of certainty in relation to fabric standards for non domestic buildings and will also help to support the use of alternative technologies

As with domestic buildings, non domestic extensions will be required to meet improved standards for walls and roofs, whilst window and door standards will remain at the same level,  similarly the additional requirements that conservatories should not be heated or cooled will also apply to non domestic buildings. I am also changing the Building Regulations to require all non domestic extensions, regardless of size, to spend, where practical, a minimum of 10% of the cost of the main work on consequential improvements to the existing part of the building.  

Future thinking

I am also committed to a further review of Part L of the Building Regulations in 2016, in order to set the requirements necessary to comply with the European Directive for all new buildings to be nearly zero energy by 2019 and 2021.