Housing minister John Healey has announced changes to the Building Regulations that will improve environmental standards as part of the government's drive to make all new buildings ‘zero carbon’ from 2019.
The amendments will come into force this October. New homes will have to be 25% more energy efficient and save, on average, enough water a year for 260 baths. Any homes built from 2016 must be zero carbon.
The changes cover Part L (Conservation of fuel and power), Part F (Means of ventilation) and Part J (Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems) of the building regulations.
There are also amendments to the Building Regulations Competent Persons Schemes (CPSs) and minor technical amendments to Part G of the Building Regulations.
The changes to Part L will require a 25% improvement above current standards for every new home. An aggregate approach for improvement of new non-domestic buildings will deliver an improvement of 25% overall, rather than for each individual building.
The amendments to Part L will increase the minimum levels of energy efficiency for building fabric and services, so that CO2 targets cannot be achieved through renewables alone. This reflects the principle of reducing overall demand for energy. The measures will also come into play when homeowners elect to carry out work to existing buildings including extensions and conversions, fabric renovations, replacement windows and boilers.
Part F has been revised with new requirements and guidance for installation and commissioning of ventilation systems. This will help to maintain indoor air quality and avoid adverse health effects that could otherwise have occurred due to the greater tendency towards more airtight buildings arising from the Part L changes.
Guidance on Part J has been revised to ensure that combustion appliances can continue to function safely in more airtight homes. A new requirement has been introduced for the provision of Carbon Monoxide alarms when installing all solid fuel appliances. The changes also remove technical disincentives to the wider use of Biomass heating systems.
Changes to Part G of the Building Regulations were due to come into force on 1 October 2009. They extend and update the existing provisions in Part G that have been in force since 1992. As well as a general updating, they make three significant changes: they introduce a minimum water efficiency standard for all new homes; extend safety provisions to all types of hot water system (not just unvented systems); and require thermostatic mixing valves to be fitted on baths in all new homes.
Healey said: "Nearly half the UK’s carbon emissions come from our buildings. But more than one in three of the buildings we’ll be working in and living in by 2050 have not yet been built, so action now can make a real difference in the future. We must all adapt to ensure that we cut carbon emissions where we can.
"While we must act to reduce carbon emissions, we must do so in sensible stages to avoid unreasonable burdens on the house building industry."
The UK is the first country to confirm legislation to require all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016, with all other buildings to meet the standard from 2019.
The government says its standards will see around 2 million tonnes of carbon saved every year by 2020, equivalent to taking over 3 million cars off of the road.