There was a big song and dance last week as more details of the cake that is Building Regs Part L 2013 emerged from the DCLG oven. So is it time to light the celebratory candles on the Part L cake or should we look at the ingredients first?

Part L is ‘The conservation of fuel and power’. It changes on a regular basis (2006 and 2010) and was a way of taking steps towards a goal of Zero Carbon in 2016. It applies to both those existing buildings already adding to the UK’s carbon emissions and those new buildings that will add even more to the total mix.

Part L 2013 was supposed to be a further 25% reduction in CO2 over 2010 regulations. The consultation came out and gave two choices – dwellings 26% or 8% and for domestic buildings 20% or 11%.

It proposed that existing buildings should be addressed by ensuring that those wanting to increase habitable space (and therefore the carbon emissions of their home) should ensure that they have taken reasonable measures on energy efficiency in the rest of their property (known as Consequential Improvements). This could have saved 120 million tonnes of CO2

How will Building Regs Part L affect you?

For those of you who don’t care about CO2 emissions, let me put it another way. Part L will affect the size of your fuel bill. Fuel bills are very much in the news as politicians realise a vote grabbing opportunity when they get hit over the head with one.

If a policy saves CO2, it reduces the amount of fuel a building uses and the size of your bill. Part L matters to you.

The numbers

With that in mind, what is the result of the Part L 2013 bake off?

  • Domestic                6% reduction in CO2
  • Non Domestic       9% reduction in CO2

Existing buildings Consequential Improvements not implemented

When will this happen? With transitional arrangements there will be little or no building to Part L 2013 until April 2015.

So not anytime soon.

So, not perhaps as exciting a recipe as we would have hoped. Opportunities missed on existing buildings and new houses will not be built to a higher level of efficiency until 2015 and, even then, they could have been so much better.

How much is this going to cost?

Hang on a minute though what about the cost of all this Part L stuff then – can we afford it?

Of course higher standards would mean higher build costs. In the current climate of Austerity any measure that increases cost is likely to be made to stand in the corner by the Treasury out of sight of the voters.

Energy ratings and EPCs

New build houses could be made more efficient to give a higher EPC and lower fuel bills. In the same way as cars are made to reduce fuel consumption and are welcomed by us, the customers. What is the difference? Few people care as much about the energy rating, the EPC, of their house as they do about the miles per gallon of their car.

Until an EPC matters, CO2 won’t get the attention it deserves and the desire to produce highly efficient housing will have little commercial benefit and retrofitting existing properties will not appeal as much as it could.

Did you know that houses with a better EPC rating command a higher re-sale value? So refurbishing your home will help you get a better selling price.

Not enough? If EPC was linked to Council Tax more people would seek out a more efficient home. More people would care about the recipe of the Part L cake. More people would save CO2 & lower their fuel bills.

What does this mean for CO2 emissions?

So, will Part L 2013 make an impact on CO2? Yes. A bit. However it could have been so much better.

Should we light the candles? No. Don’t want to generate any more CO2. If only that was front of mind for homeowners the impact of Part L 2013 could have been so much better.

Here is an infographic to show the facts and figures from the latest update and the dates for your diary:

Building Regulations Part L Infographic