Updated Building Regulations to cut CO2

The Government has announced updates to the Building Regulations to improve the energy performance of new buildings in England, and as a result, help the country meet our net zero targets.

Pete Stemp - Senior Copywriter

Peter Stemp04.01.2022

Currently heating and power for buildings represents 40% of the UK’s total energy usage and while improvements have been made in recent years, many buildings do not meet the levels of efficiency required to achieve net zero. Estimates suggest that almost half (46%) of the homes in England are now rated C or above for energy efficiency, compared to 14% in 2010.

Under the updated regulations, which come in to force in June 2022, CO2 emissions from new homes must be around 30% lower than under the current standard, with emissions from other new buildings such as offices and shops, reduced by 27%. The regulations require new buildings to be designed and built to achieve greater energy efficiency and will encourage the use of low carbon and renewable technologies, such as heat pumps and solar panels. Not only will this reduce the energy required to heat the homes and buildings but also lower fuel costs for homeowners and businesses.

However, making buildings more energy efficient will require greater airtightness, which can cause issues with overheating and poor ventilation. Therefore, the Government has also introduced new requirements to address this. All new residential buildings, including student accommodation and care homes, must be designed to reduce overheating. Ventilation requirements will also be improved to ensure the safety and health of homes and improve air quality in non-residential buildings.

The Building Regulations that have been updated are:

  • Approved Document L: Conservation of fuel and power - both volume 1: dwellings and volume 2: buildings other than dwellings
  • Approved Document F: Ventilation – volume 1: dwellings and volume 2: buildings other than dwellings.

The Government has also created a new Approved Document O that contains the standards for mitigating overheating. Primarily, this new addition aims to limit solar gains in summer and ensure adequate removal of heat from the building. It also states that mechanical cooling, such as air conditioning, may only be used where the sufficient removal of heat cannot be achieved in another way.

This is the latest in a series of steps taken by the Government to address emissions in the built environment. This includes the recent publication of the Heat and Buildings strategy and new funding such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grant.

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