The implication of changing regulations

Thermoseal Group’s sales director Mark Hickox talks about energy efficiency and how proposed revisions to Document L are set to change the current energy efficiency requirements for glazing.

Like everything else, the construction industry is continually evolving and changes are influenced by many factors such as legislation, technological changes, market trends, capital investment, industry structure, and overall management.

Thermoseal Group has been making every effort to develop new and more energy efficient products, and to increase production to meet market demand. However, as with most things, dramatic changes are brought about by changes in legislation.

Energy efficiency requirements for homes are set by Document L and Part 6 of the Building Regulations. Building Regulations Approved Document L (conservation of fuel and power) consists of four different parts L1A, L1B, L2A and L2B with each part focused on either a new property that is to be built or an existing property that is undergoing home improvement works. Document L deals with the conservation of power and fuel.

Proposals for updates to Document L for new homes have been submitted and are currently in a consultation period, which has seen a delay due to (we believe) the outcome of the Grenfell Tower Report. As far as we are currently aware, the consultation period will now continue until January 2020 for approval by March 2020 and will come into effect by September 2020. Further changes are then due to be discussed for implementation in 2025.

Once changes come into effect, any new property will be required to be built to the new standard and there will be a time-span on the validity of pre-approved plans.

The Future Homes Standard consultation document states: “The consultation sets out two options to uplift energy efficiency standards and requirements:

Option 1 – 20% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the current standard for an average home. We anticipate this could be delivered by very high fabric standards (typically with triple glazing and minimal heat loss from walls, ceilings and roofs).

Option 2 – 31% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the current standard. We anticipate this could be delivered based on the installation of carbon-saving technology such as photovoltaic (solar) panels and better fabric standards, though not as high as in option 1 (typically double not triple glazing).

Option 2 is our preferred option. It would deliver more carbon savings and result in lower bills for the householder but has higher build costs. We also expect that it would help to prepare supply chains for heat pumps and increase the number of trained installers.”

On the basis that option 2 is not currently viable due to issues with heat pumps and the labour to install them, you could naturally assume that would make option 1 the more likely choice. It would therefore appear that triple glazing will be the new requirement for new homes. It may well also be applied to the replacement windows in the near future.

This will have major implications for the window industry, which have been heavily discussed since the Triple Glazing Debate back in 2014. Just for Thermoseal Group, this means further investment in machinery and tooling to meet greater demand for smaller profile widths of our own-manufactured Thermobar and Thermoflex warm edge spacers and accessories. In addition, the implications on infrastructure that come with increasing our manufacturing output.

For insulated glass (IG) sealed unit manufacturers, there will be many implications, including: the requirement for 50% more glass and additional components; issues with the carriage of increased weight of IG units; upgrades required to IG manufacturing machinery; and the upskilling of staff.

Thermoseal Group is currently reviewing and preparing for these revisions and will, of course, discuss the requirements and implications with our customers with a view to ensuring that they are prepared and that we can meet future demands for supply.

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Thermoseal Group Limited
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