Stephen Wise, market development manager from Knauf Insulation - the UK's leading manufacturer of glass, rock and extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation - reviews this year’s changes to Part L of the building regulations and how they have affected the industry:
“That’s what the front cover of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy says to calm it’s readers - maybe we should write it across the front of the Part L guidelines too?!
“Although they may look daunting, they’re really not, and everything outlined should be something, as an industry, that we’ve been working towards for a while now. So, no major shocks? Well, hopefully not!
“Last year’s updated regulations outlined changes to the minimum efficiencies of boilers. It meant the majority of all new boilers fitted into homes had to be at least 86% efficient, and this year the changes to Part L (introduced on the 6th April) require carbon emissions to be reduced within the whole building performance. The new Approved Document L1A outlines energy efficiency in new dwellings, while L1B covers extending or altering existing dwellings. These jointly replaced the 2002 edition of Approved Document L1.
“What these new regulations basically mean is that throughout the building process, greater attention must be paid to every factor that contributes to the energy consumption or heat loss of a building. As contractors, architects and designers, you must ensure the building has excellent air tightness and reduce the heat flow rate (Psi) especially at all structural junctions, and as manufacturers we need to ensure the solutions we provide for you to reduce this are examined for optimum cost benefit performance.
“In keeping with the European Union’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) we should expect to see further changes to Part L in 2010 and 2015. As an industry we should already be planning and working towards this and year on year we should be aiming to beat U-values rather than simply meeting them.
“The most efficient way to achieve instant reduction in building emissions is through insulation. At Knauf we have made a substantial investment in our UK plants to meet the expected growth in demand for insulation products, and to ensure continuity of supply following the implementation of the new regulations. These enhanced products will provide increased levels of thermal resistance with only modest - or in some cases no - change to the insulation thickness necessary for the construction to meet the U-values required for overall compliance. The whole-building overview is essential for compliance with Part L 2006, with insulation systems that fully utilise the available cavities within the construction as insulation zones.
“This is a great opportunity for us to develop our industry’s profile, and the announcement of the Government’s new National Institute of Energy Technologies (NIET) could really advance our research into new building solutions. We’re told that the NIET will ‘bring a new level of focus, ambition and industrial collaboration to the UK’s work in energy science and engineering’ and will be a 50/50 venture between the public and private sectors. With this backing there will be more scope for early-stage technology venture development and research into new ways to meet the energy efficiency criteria as set down by the Government.
“The industry looks to market leading manufacturers to provide advice and support on how to comply with the regulations. For example, at Knauf Insulation, we offer a range of support services including guidance documents on how to comply and a series of free to use software programmes. These include a SAP 2005 calculation tool, and a U-Value calculator which are being made available from our website at www.knaufinsulation.co.uk or by calling our Technical Advisory Centre on 01744 76 66 66.”