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Part L changes cause confusion for engineers

Consulting engineers are being confused by apparently conflicting requirements between local planning officers and the most recent changes to Part L of the Building Regulations, according to experts.

Although the carbon reduction targets set by the revised Part L (2013) are modest – just 6 per cent for new homes and 9 per cent for commercial buildings – they should improve insulation levels and this could reduce the effectiveness of renewables.

“Higher insulation standards will reduce the need for heat, but renewables depend on heat demand to operate,” said David Shaw, LZC national sales manager for Baxi Commercial Division.

“Therefore, regulators are making buildings less suitable for renewables, but local officials will withhold planning permission unless renewables are part of the design.”

Mr Shaw believes this is driving designers to make perverse technology choices that may not be in the interests of the building owner or operator.

“We are seeing terrible mis-matches because designers are getting confused – and even worse, they don’t always recognise the impact of making the wrong choices. It is important that designers make sure they are specifying an appropriate solution for the building and not just ticking boxes,” added Mr Shaw.

“It is very tempting to design for planning and forget that the building and the chosen technologies do actually have to work in harmony.”

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