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Posts Tagged ‘Building Regulations’

Building Regulations,Eric Pickles,Zero Carbon Homes

Kick out this absurd policy

Buy a new home from a small company. And guarantee higher fuel bills, increasing emissions and general confusion between regulators and consumers. Sounds like a poor deal all round, both for the purchaser, and the marketing prospects for smaller construction companies?

I would agree. But nonetheless Communities Secretary Eric Pickles seems determined to foist this absurd proposal onto the marketplace as soon as possible.

Since 2006 it is has been agreed policy among the three major political parties that all new homes built from 2016 should emit zero carbon. This became legally binding (albeit by 2019) under the 2010 recast of the European Energy Performance of Buildings directive.

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BIS,Building Regulations,Cabinet Office,DECC,Housing,supplier obligation

Review of energy efficiency policies in housing

Commissioned by the Green Construction Board’s Valuation & Demand Group, ACE Research, in partnership with Sweett Group, has delivered a comprehensive but high level qualitative and quantitative review of energy policies targeted at residential buildings over the last 20 years. Throughout, the work was informed and guided by stakeholders in government, industry and the NGO sector.

The main purpose of the work is to support the civil service to maintain a long view on ‘what works’ in residential energy efficiency programmes as staff are turned over. The outputs have been brought together in an interactive dashboard designed as a tool to bring officials up to speed on residential energy efficiency programmes quickly. This is accompanied by a full report and an executive summary. To date, the tool has been presented to, and tested with, DECC, BIS, the Cabinet Office.

Download the project’s resources below, and let us know what you think:


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Building Regulations,DCLG,Department for Communities and Local Government,Display Energy Certificates

A disaster for energy efficiency inside DCLG

The following is a piece written by Andrew Warren and published in ENDS Report 467, January 2014, pp. 30-31.

The past three and a half years for Eric Pickles appears to have been a litany of failure, countering the prime minister’s energy efficiency aim for Britain.

Prime minister David Cameron has set a challenge for his cabinet: “I want Britain to be the most energy-efficient nation in Europe.” But seemingly there is one member working in the opposite direction.

Eric Pickles has been the secretary of state for the Department for Communities and Local Government since the coalition took office in May 2010. During that time, he has presided over, indeed sometimes personally made, a series of policy decisions which completely undermine Cameron’s objective.

The list of failures is as consistent as it is long. In each case Pickles seems wilfully to have sought to obstruct progress. This is despite his having been the chairman of the Conservative Party which promoted the catchphrase “vote blue, go green”.

At the start of the century, the government and the building sector came together to agree a pathway to higher new-building energy standards, at a time when they were many years behind European countries with similar climates. In exchange for a roadmap providing relative certainty on timing and extent of change, the construction industry invested in training and product development, towards zero-carbon (or very low-carbon) buildings.

The deal stuck. In 2006 and 2010, the improvements were made smoothly. The next round of changes were due to start last April – the final round before zero-carbon homes were due to be introduced in 2016. Despite issuing a consultation document in January 2012 promising these upgrades, they did not go ahead as scheduled. Instead they will come into force 12 months late, in April 2014.

Even when they do proceed, they will deliver far less than intended: a 6% rather than a 25% improvement for new homes and a 9% rather than a 20% improvement in non-residential buildings, based on 2010 levels.

But it has long been established that vast numbers of new homes fail to comply with the minimum building regulation standards. Almost inexplicably, there appears to be no government system for monitoring compliance.

If a washing machine or refrigerator is put on the market that does not deliver the promised energy savings, the National Measurement Office can take out criminal proceedings. Yet nobody has ever been prosecuted for failing to comply with the energy conservation parts of the building regulations. And countless independent studies have revealed that, once you get beyond one or two bedroom apartments, it is a minority of homes that meet even the minimum energy standards. The rest are all breaking the law and Pickles is apparently wholly unconcerned.

The position is, if anything, worse for existing buildings. New EU laws state that all advertising for a building sold or leased should include its A-G energy label. And each new occupant must receive energy performance details and how it can be improved.

Independent surveys have revealed that these legal requirements are seldom observed. Pickles’ department has not only failed to adequately monitor compliance, it has not ensured that council trading standards officers are monitoring the advertising requirements – so buyers and lessors are not informed of buildings’ energy efficiency standards. But last September Pickles had to compensate the scheme administrators, Landmark (a Daily Mail subsidiary), with a whopping £5.7m from public funds, because at least six million lodgement fees of £5.36 for energy certificates had not been paid.

An earlier EU directive had led to display energy certificates being displayed in the foyers of 42,000 public buildings. Renewed annually and reflecting annual energy usage, they were stimulating big efficiency improvements. But since 2010 there has been no pressure to keep these updated: so many are not, in part because now Pickles has also whimsically decided that smaller buildings need only renew every ten years. And he is not requiring the commercial sector to display such certificates, but instead mandating that “in a prominent place” there will only be details of a building’s theoretical performance. His department has been unable to cite any support for such a perverse interpretation of a European directive.

Such idiocy occurred largely because he omitted to consult about how the final text of the new buildings directive should be implemented. Perhaps it is because he knows that, even if he does run a public consultation, he may subsequently reverse his position – even if 82% of respondents endorse his original proposal. This is what happened in the case of his infamous ‘consequential improvements’ consultation – a policy he now rejects despite having initially claimed an £11bn saving to the economy and the stimulation of 2.2 million Green Deals.

Other examples of bad faith include the failure to set any energy efficiency targets in the revised guidance for local authorities for the Home Energy and Conservation Act. And it is an open question whether landlords really believe that DCLG is committed to enforcing the requirement of the Energy Act 2011 that F and G-rated properties cannot be leased after 2018.

Pickles is currently consulting on removing from the statute book the Planning and Energy Act. This permits local authorities to set higher minimum standards for new buildings – an act much deployed by the London mayor Boris Johnson, who requires new commercial and residential buildings to deliver 40% better energy performance than the regulations mandate.

A damaging u-turn
This act was an unusual one. It was put onto the statute book in 2008 by opposition Conservative backbencher Michael Fallon (now an energy minister) cheered on by his then party chairman as an excellent mix of localism and environmentalism. Who was this chairman? Why, Eric Pickles, who five years on is apparently seeking another personal u-turn, further damaging the environment.

I am not qualified to form a judgment on Eric Pickles’ effectiveness in other policy areas but what I do know is that to date his period in office has been an almost unmitigated disaster so far as the energy efficiency agenda is concerned – and certainly so far as achieving the prime minister’s declared objectives.

As Cameron reminds us: “In a race for limited resources, it is the energy efficient that will win the race.” Perhaps Pickles should be donning his running shoes?

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Building Regulations,Low Carbon Housing,Scotland

“Severe and damaging” impact of watered down energy standards

News release from the Association for the Conservation of Energy

For immediate release: Monday 13 May 2013


Scottish Government Ministers are coming under increasing pressure not to backtrack on their plans for greener buildings. The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) [1] today warned there would be a “severe and damaging impact” if as feared there is a delay and watering down of green standards for new homes. In a strongly-worded letter[2] to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth and Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Government and Planning, in the Scottish Government, they urged the Government to stick to its original roadmap – the so-called Sullivan Report – to deliver very low carbon new buildings in 2013 and zero-carbon new buildings in 2016.

 In the letter, released today, Andrew Warren, Director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, said,

 “You have announced your intention that the 2013 changes to Section 6 (Energy) of Building Standards be delayed until 2014 and watered down from the roadmap set out in the 2007 Sullivan Report, and previously accepted by your Government. Now the Sullivan panel is re-convening, with the impression being given that their remit is to further delay and water down the 2016 changes to Section 6.

If this occurs, the effect on this industry will be severe and damaging, as those who know – the leaders of major companies concerned with this market – testify.

I urge you to implement the original Sullivan recommendations urgently.”

 The Sullivan panel was set up in 2007 to fulfil an SNP manifesto pledge to “establish an expert panel to report on the changes we need to make to building regulations in Scotland to increase energy efficiency” [3]. The Sullivan report recommended introduction of low carbon new buildings in 2010; very low carbon new buildings in 2013 and zero-carbon new buildings in 2016 [4]. The recommendations were accepted and endorsed by Stewart Stevenson MSP, then Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.

 The current Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay MSP, announced his intention in December 2012 that the Government would consult on introducing new standards in 2014 which offered only a minor improvement over current standards, and delaying the implementation by a year, contrary to the Sullivan recommendations [5]. The consultation launched in January 2013 and proposed a 21% improvement, well below the Sullivan recommendations[6]. Mr Mackay then reconvened the Sullivan panel in May 2013 with a remit to “revisit” the original recommendations in light of the economic downturn post-2007[7]. The clear implication is that the 2016 zero-carbon standards would be delayed and watered down.



Chas Booth

Senior Press & Parliamentary Officer

Association for the Conservation of Energy

07905 147552


Notes to editors

[1] The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) is a lobbying, campaigning and policy research organisation, and has worked in the field of energy efficiency since 1981. Our lobbying and campaigning work represents the interests of our membership: major manufacturers and distributors of energy saving equipment in the United Kingdom. ACE is a member of both Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum.

 More info from our website:


[2] The full text of the letter follows (and is also available here: Section 6 letter May 2013)

 Please don’t  damage our industry

 Open letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney MSP and the Minister for Local Government and Planning Derek Mackay MSP

 May 2013

Dear Cabinet Secretary, Dear Minister,

 Section 6 (Energy) of Building Standards

 You have announced your intention that the 2013 changes to Section 6 (Energy) of Building Standards be delayed until 2014 and watered down from the roadmap set out in the 2007 Sullivan Report, and previously accepted by your Government. Now the Sullivan panel is re-convening, with the impression being given that their remit is to further delay and water down the 2016 changes to Section 6.

If this occurs, the effect on this industry will be severe and damaging, as those who know – the leaders of major companies concerned with this market – testify.

I urge you to implement the original Sullivan recommendations urgently.

 Yours sincerely,

 Andrew Warren, Director

Association for the Conservation of Energy


‘Less investment and fewer jobs’

Robert Barclay, Managing Director (UK) and ROI of SIG plc:

“The lack of clarity from the Scottish Government on Section 6 2013 is unhelpful. Our company has made a significant investment against the backdrop of the stated Section 6 timetable comprising two joint ventures centred around the marketing of high energy performance building systems and a team of specialist people with the sole aim of advising the house building community as to the most effective product solutions required to meet the revised regulations.

“If the Section 6 2013 amendment is postponed/withdrawn this is not only disappointing for those who endeavour to differentiate through innovation but it will further knock confidence in our business and the wider sector which will inevitably result in less investment and fewer jobs.”

SIG plc is UK largest distributor of insulation and related products, employing 3,500 people.


‘Wasted investment’

John Sinfield, Managing Director, Knauf Insulation Northern Europe:

“The expected amendments to Section 6 offer a real opportunity to increase investment as well as secure job opportunities, and also future proof the UK’s homes against fuel poverty. As a manufacturer, we have invested accordingly, but with no Scottish Government certainty for the industry, the abandoned roadmap to zero carbon represents a significant wasted investment for the energy efficiency sector.”

Knauf Insulation Limited is the leading UK manufacturer of insulation materials. We employ 580 people across four sites in the UK.


‘Damage to a fragile industry’

David Robson, Managing Director, Instagroup:

“Any decision to delay or weaken Section 6 changes will further damage a fragile industry and result in further job losses and will lead to less investment in this industry.”

Instagroup is the leading systems designer for insulation and sponsors the UK’s leading energy efficiency network.  Instagroup is a Green Deal provider and has invested in Green Deal finance.


‘A huge impact on our future investment’

Alex McLeod, Chief Executive, Superglass Insulation:

“The timetable for implementation of Section 6 Building Regulation, including a 60% improvement on 2007 standards in the domestic 2013 regulations and a move to Zero Carbon homes in 2016 is critical to investor confidence.  Superglass PLC raised substantial investment capital in 2011.  Critical to continued investment is confidence in the regulatory framework which is a significant driver of growth in energy efficiency products and service.  Any delay in the implementation of Section 6 will have a huge impact on our future investment plans.”

Superglass is one of the last remaining independent building materials manufacturers, and is based in Stirling.


‘Negative impact on export market’

Peter Wilson, Managing Director, Kingspan Insulation:

“Kingspan Insulation has been planning and implementing product developments and improvements in construction best practice and materials to support the Zero Carbon Homes initiative. I therefore find it of great concern that there is a lack of clarity around the Scottish Government’s timetable for the proposed 2013 Section 6 implementation.

“If the Regulations do not meet the standards required by the roadmap for carbon reduction commitment, then investment and growth in the construction sector is likely to be inhibited. This will impact negatively on the ability of manufacturers to invest in developing competitive products for export markets.”

Kingspan Insulation is the largest manufacturer of rigid insulation products in the UK. We employ over 400 people and have over 40% of market share.


‘Deter innovation’

Eamon McDonnell, Managing Director Saint-Gobain Isover:

“Delay in the implementation of Section 6 has undermined the roadmap that had been set out to achieve zero carbon homes and will impact on the timing and scale of future investments in glass wool insulation manufacture in the UK. It will also deter innovation in the housing sector and leave new house owners saddled with unnecessarily expensive running costs for their homes.”

Saint-Gobain Isover is the global leader in the manufacture of mineral wool insulation and has been present in the UK as a glass wool manufacturer for over 30 years.


‘A potential blow to the economy’

Jayne Law MBE, Commercial Director, Dow Building Solutions:

“At Dow we believe the proposed changes to Section 6 would have provided substantial environmental and economic benefits. It will be a serious disappointment to those committed to a greener future for Scotland as well as a potential blow to the economy if the clear support within the industry for the introduction of these positive measures is not embraced and taken forward.”

Dow was the sole sponsor of the Energy Efficiency Mission Launch Event at the Royal Society on February 4, at which the Prime Minister gave his long-awaited keynote speech on the importance of energy efficiency to our economy.


‘Small companies should not be penalised’

Nick Hunt, UK Sales Director, Honeywell Control Systems:

“Honeywell is proud to have invested considerable time and effort in developing products and training installers. The good installers who have already embraced the necessary changes would be disadvantaged by having the rug pulled out from under their feet by delays in Section 6. These small companies have invested time and effort in keeping up to date and should not be penalised. Nor should their customers – consumers – be disadvantaged, as they continue to be sold products that may not have the energy efficiency benefits that are included in most modern heating controls.”

Honeywell is a major manufacturer of energy controls, employing over 7,000 people in UK, many in manufacturing facilities. They have facilities in 75 different constituencies, and manufacture in 20 constituencies. The biggest are directly affected by the Building Regulations.



[4] Scottish Government (2007) A Low Carbon Building Standards Strategy for Scotland (The Sullivan Report)


[5] Scottish Government press release, 10/12/2012, “Greener buildings”


[6] Lower Carbon Buildings – a review of energy standards and guidance within Scottish building regulations, Scottish Government, 14 January 2013


[7] Scottish Government announcement – Sullivan panel to reconvene, April 2013


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Building Regulations,consequential improvements,Department for Communities and Local Government,Eric Pickles,Judicial Review

Statement on Eric Pickles Judicial Review threat

The Association for the Conservation of Energy has at last received Eric Pickles’ response to our threat of judicially reviewing his decision to reverse entirely the strong recommendations the government was making last spring, to widen the existing ‘consequential improvements’ concept to cover smaller buildings. Despite requesting – and receiving from us – an extension of an extra 17 days to prepare the response, it was nonetheless received later than agreed.

Whilst he rebuts our charge, Mr Pickles concedes that his December statement to Parliament was wrong in several ways. This included quoting completely inaccurate figures, and drawing conclusions from the wrong focus groups. He also fails to address the undeniable fact that 82% of respondents to his 2012 consultation endorsed the concept of extending consequential improvements.

We are meeting with Learned Counsel next Tuesday, and will make a further statement after that.

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Building Regulations,CLG,Don Foster,Eric Pickles,Part L

Please don’t damage British industry

Open letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (The Rt Hon Eric Pickles, MP) and the Minister for Building Regulations (The Rt Hon Don Foster MP). Signed by eight ACE Members, it highlights the risk of damage to the construction industry by letting the Building Regulations Part L implementation schedule slip.

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Building Regulations,consequential improvements,Department for Communities and Local Government,Eric Pickles


ACE response to binning of Consequential Improvements

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, yesterday issued a statement saying that proposals for Consequential Improvements – which would have introduced a requirement on home owners to make improvements to the energy efficiency of their homes when carrying out extensions – have been scrapped.

How curious that in his statement Mr Pickles should entirely omit to refer to the following points – which were sent to Ministers in a briefing prepared by his Department in May (and reported by Energy in Buildings and Industry in October):

  1. 4 out of 5 people responding to his consultation specifically supported the concept of Consequential Improvements
  2. On the Government’s own figures, consequential improvements would have benefited the economy by over £11 billion
  3. 63 to 76% of homeowners who took part in Energy Saving Trust surveys felt that Consequential Improvements on extensions and conversions were ‘reasonable’ or ‘very reasonable’
  4. As a result of this decision, on Government’s own figures over 2 million fewer homes will take up the Green Deal, the very scheme which he claims to be relying upon to deliver home energy improvements

This decision is bad for the economy. It is bad for jobs. It is bad for the environment.

But it is an undoubted triumph for the Daily Mail, whose mendacious campaign (inventing the “conservatory tax”) seems to have led to this profoundly foolish and irrational volte face.

Update on December 17, 2012 – from blog written by the Energy Saving Trust outlining their own interpretation of their own research (cited by Eric Pickles last week) – continue reading below

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Building Regulations,Department for Communities and Local Government

CLG: Building Regulations consultation response

ACE has submitted written responses to the Department of Communities and Local Government Consultations on the Building Regulations in England Section two: Part L and Section four: the building control system.

The consultation on Building Regulations Part L was formed of two sections. The first was on the introduction of the requirement for “consequential improvements” to be required when an existing building is extended or when elements are replaced. Click here for our full response.

The second part of the consultation on Part L covered all other proposals under this section (Conservation of fuel and power). Click here for our full response. In appendix to this response we also submitted a paper on Improving Compliance with Part L drafted in collaboration with CIBSE, CPA, BSRIA and STROMA which can be found here.

Finally our response to the consultation on changes to the Building Control system can be found here. This response should also be read in conjunction with the paper on Improving Compliance with Part L.

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Building Regulations,Policymaking

When the theory doesn’t match the practice

ImageIf the potential for energy saving is to be met then the Government must take a closer look at whether its policies are being implemented or just ignored

‘‘Evidence-based policy making” is a litany endorsed by every government since well before the Millennium. As a result, impact assessments are de rigueur before any new initiatives see the light of day.

The current proposals for altering Part L of the building regulations are certainly supported by swathes of the latter. However, they are backed up by very little hard evidence as to whether these savings identified can ever become a reality.

During their anticipated lifetime, the proposed tighter standards for new English homes and non-residential buildings are forecast to save 14.51m tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2).

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Building Regulations,compliance

Improving compliance with Part L

ACE has developed a briefing, in collaboration with CIBSE, the Construction Products Association, BSRIA and STROMA setting out a new and highly effective proposal for radically improving compliance with Part L.


Part L compliance could be radically improved by strengthening existing procedures for ensuring that the claimed design carbon emissions, as determined via the ‘design stage’ SAP/SBEM assessment, are delivered in the completed building.

We have identified a growing confusion in the roles of Building Control Officers (BCOs) and Energy Assessors (EAs) in the implementation of Part L of the Building Regulations. A view has been expressed to us at a senior level within LABC to the effect that the confirmation of compliance with Part L is the responsibility of the EA and their certification body, rather than the BCO. The EA however has no responsibility for on-site checking of compliance with an initial specification. The consequence of this is an uncontrolled and incomplete system of compliance. Finally, and we believe crucially, there is no adequate mechanism for purchasers to bring a claim in civil law in the event of inadequate delivery, as there is currently no binding as-built specification available to them.

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