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Building Regulations Part L: the Principles of Sustainable Construction

Adhering to UK building regulations is, of course, essential to the success of any development project – particularly as these regulations are, more often than not, integral to ensuring a financially viable outcome. This is especially significant when it comes to sustainability factor, where regulations are in place to ensure the eco-friendly construction of British properties.

In March, the Code for Sustainable Homes – which had previously governed sustainable building initiatives – was officially scrapped, paving the way for a clearer and more fixed approach to energy-efficient construction. In light of this attack on architectural red tape, we’re taking a look at the principles behind sustainable construction – and the building regulations which inform the way we build for the future of our environment.

There is now a replacement to the Code for Sustainable Homes, called the ‘Home Quality Mark’. http://www.homequalitymark.com/

Home Quality Mark

The Home Quality mark has been developed by the BRE (British Research Establishment) and shares some similarities with the Code but has a good deal of key differences.

Primarily the ‘HQM’ will be a property benchmarking tool aimed at giving builders, developers and homeowners a ‘Star Rating’ guide that can be applied to homes when they are sold. The ‘Star Rating’ will allow buyers to be clear on what quantifiable benefits the home will give to them in terms of:

  • Low energy bills
  • Low mortgage and insurance
  • Reduced Maintenance
  • Amounts of natural light
  • Access to local facilities and amenities
  • And numerous other factors.

This is designed to replace the Code for Sustainable Homes, which many home owners did not understand, and a ‘tick box’ of sustainable possibilities – with a system for giving people a clearer picture of how a good quality home will benefit them in terms of finance, health, wellbeing and community facilities.

At Unit One Architects, we’ll be showing you how we’ll use this tool to benchmark certain projects and help homeowners to achieve a level of excellence in environmental performance.

Building Regulations: Part L

Part L of the building regulations refers to the conservation of fuel and power, and exists to guarantee the eco-efficiency of properties built under UK law. With an aim for both newly-built and newly-modified properties to meet the target CO2 emissions limit, caveats of Part L are in place to minimise carbon emissions as a part of a drive towards a greener future.

Considerations covered by Part L include:

  • The maximum permitted area of windows, doors and other openings
  • The structure’s air permeability
  • Insulation values of building elements
  • Heating efficiency of boilers
  • Insulation/controls for heating appliances & systems
  • Hot water storage
  • Lighting efficiency
  • Solar heat gains
  • Ventilation & air conditioning systems

For more information, head to our dedicated page on UK building regulations.

Sustainable Construction

A clear understanding of Part L and the building regulations helps architects work towards a more environmentally friendly future. This regulation revolves around energy conservation and can be used as a means of defining a technical brief for a sustainable and super efficient property.

The new Part L helps define the next phase of sustainable construction and looks set to be more ambitious and innovative than ever before.

With Part L of the building regulations in mind, properties should be conceived and constructed with the principles of sustainable design at the forefront. These initiatives not only concern the way properties are built, but also ensure that they’re built to last. With a commitment to sustainable materials, as well as the efficiency of all heating and electrical systems, the continuous refinement of Part L takes architectural practices ever closer to a zero carbon 2016. So every sketch we do from the very first meeting includes an imbedded knowledge of energy efficiency, renewable technology and the life cycle cost of building and energy use.

This rigorous drive towards carbon neutral development continues, with or without the Code for Sustainable Homes – and there’s no doubt sustainability levels will play an increasingly key part in housing standards as we approach the 2016 ‘deadline’. The Code has been described as “an imperfect beast”, meaning this shift marks an opportunity to approach sustainable architecture in a way that’s more focused, more refined and more impactful overall – meaning the ultimate goal of zero carbon operations could be a certain future.

At Unit One Architects, we’re dedicated to sustainable design – and we work with our clients to complete development projects with an eye on environmental sustainability at all times.

If you’d like to speak to our experts on the finer details of UK building regulations or any aspect of sustainable construction, contact Unit One Architects today.