New green targets 'are achievable'

As the Government's latest revisions to Part-L Regs 2013 come in to play on April 6, Simon Groom considers how best to achieve the new targets

With the aim of striking a balance between zero carbon and business growth, these latest changes, first to come into force since revisions in 2010, are not as onerous as originally anticipated.

New targets lower than the 40% intimated by the Government previously, have been set. For non-domestic buildings this equates to a further 9% aggregate improvement. For example, in the case of shallow plan offices, the target is 13%, for deep plan office buildings and hotels it’s 12%.

Meanwhile targets are lower in relation to warehouse developments with small buildings expected to achieve 3%, retail warehousing 8% and distribution warehousing targeted at 4%.

To meet these targets we must move away from a reliance on installing renewable solutions. In the past few years there has been an inclination to load new buildings with green “bling” and install every conceivable piece of renewable energy kit such as photovoltaics and wind turbines. In so doing all the Part-L boxes were ticked.

However, adopting a low carbon approach rather than relying on renewables will be more beneficial. I am a great believer in prevention rather than cure and the bolstering of incumbent systems, on each project, can prevent the need for adding more and more renewables.

Where clients have a need for air conditioning this can be designed to incorporate high efficiency variable refrigeration flow systems. Where heating systems are required we can incorporate biomass boilers, combined heat and power systems, ground source or air source heat pumps.

Where district cooling or energy loops are required we have utilised flat bed coolers. The latter of the two were installed to great effect on Gateshead’s Trinity Square, as part of the scheme’s overall carbon reduction strategy.

Most systems can be increased in efficiency with correct engineering and this can dramatically affect the amount of renewable technology then needed to pass Part L.

Early involvement and close collaboration by the build team at the outset makes it easier to find workable solutions to construct buildings which will meet these revised Government targets.

I believe the new targets are a good compromise on what some considered may have been set. They are achievable with existing solutions; however, there is never a case for saying one solution fits all.

Each project should be reviewed on its merits in order to deliver the best compliance model, thereby ensuring the best low carbon solutions are achieved each time.

Simon Groom, technical director, Castle Building Services

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