Zeroing in on Part L in 2015

The New Year is well and truly here and the visit from Santa (assuming you have all been good of course) is but a distant memory as 2015 stretches out in front of us.  So, what joys await the wonderful world of construction? Or more precisely, what regulatory challenges do we face?

Given that buildings account for 45% of the UK’s CO2 emissions, policy tweaks to tackle this challenge are never far away and 2015 is no exception with more work to do on Part L, The Conservation of Fuel and Power.

I know what you are thinking – we’ve just had a Part L change so surely we haven’t got to worry about that for a while? Afraid not. Don’t forget that Part L was late and should have been with us in 2013. We foolishly thought the clue to the release date was in the title – that’ll teach us! So its eventual arrival in 2014 has squeezed the timescales.

Zero Carbon Homes are still due to be delivered in 2016 and that means Part L 2016 (I will optimistically call it that, although other numbers may be more apt) will need to appear.

For that to happen on time to support Zero Carbon there are a lot of steps required. New policy needs to be agreed and drawn up, the changes required to calculation software (SAP and SBEM) need to be implemented, Ministerial sign off needs to be obtained and all this must go out to consultation by October of this year if we are to see Part L and Zero Carbon by October 2016.

Just to add some extra complication there is an election in the way.  This puts further pressure on deadlines required and the availability of Ministers to focus on this issue when they have the distractions of the ballot box drawing them away.

So where does all this leave us? Sadly Santa did not get me a crystal ball for Christmas (I really must try to behave better year) so I will just have to settle for some (un)educated guess work.

Predictions for 2015

Scotland’s equivalent to Part L, namely Section 6, will change in October.

OK, that was an easy one, as we have all the draft regulations already published but I want to at least get one of these right…

Part L 2016 consultation will be out by October this year*

It will look very much like the Part L we expected to get in 2013 so a 25% reduction in CO2 over Part L 2010. Better (very) late than never.

Part L for existing buildings will not change. Again*

I would love it if it did as there are a lot more existing buildings pumping out CO2 than new ones being built. Consequential improvements have been proposed and thrown out three times now, a fourth time would be very embarrassing for a new administration. I would hope that other new policy drivers for retrofit would become effective and start to mop up CO2. Especially if Energy Efficiency is made a National Infrastructure priority- a topic that is gaining some traction in the political arena.

Allowable Solutions will finally be defined in legislation in 2015*

There will be much debate and I suspect nobody will be very happy with the final outcome. Ultimately this is carbon offsetting by a different name. Do you do it by planting trees (and hope they don’t blow over in the wind), paying into a fund that will mitigate the carbon on your behalf (looks a lot like an extra tax on building) or perhaps retrofit the local community to reduce CO2 from existing houses. I like that idea but I suspect it will be far too complex to implement.


*There is an election this year and sadly, all policies in the built environment seem to be subject to political whim. I reserve  the right to be wrong and but it’s not my fault honest.
Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see just how many new houses Santa has to put on his list in December and how many of the current ones he visits will feel a lot more comfortable. Time and regulations, will tell.

Key Zero Carbon Statistics  - Part L 2015 Celotex blog