Learning to love the Building Regulations

To the ever-growing number of people in the building-services industry who fully appreciate just how much can be achieved with energy-efficient plant and systems in dramatically reducing the energy consumption of buildings and their associated carbon-dioxide emissions, it will come as a culture shock to be reminded that there are plenty of people who do not. In this day and age when all forms of printed and broadcast media are constantly covering the threat of global warming — or at least blaming it for any weather that is perceived to be at all abnormal — can there really be responsible people out there who do not accept that good engineering can readily deliver energy savings of 25 to 30% and more, as highlighted in the link below? These must surely be the same people who are aware that the Government has set targets for reducing carbon emissions that culminate in a 60% reduction by 2050. More recently, the Government is starting to take on board the concept of zero-carbon housing by 2016. Even Government incentives to install energy-efficient systems all-too-often fall on deaf ears, as a survey carried out for Daikin Airconditioning UK discovered (link below). We are referring here to the scheme for Enhanced Capital Allowances, which, as a tax incentive, surely ought to be understood by accountants and exploited — but apparently not. Some encouragement can be taken from the fact that outright sceptics quickly become enthusiastic converts once they see systems working and delivering the kind of savings and efficiencies they were promised. The difficulty is getting the horse to the water in the first place. Now the horse is being dragged to the water by the Building Regulations, which take away the decision whether or not to spend money on energy efficiency. To get planning permission, compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations has to be demonstrated and a proportion of renewable energy generated on site. While there may be much anguish at the extra cost, the reality is that property owners and developers will ultimately gain financially through reductions in fuel bills. Forward-thinking property developers with long-term vision have understood this for years. Now the rest of them will be forced to enjoy paybacks of quite reasonable periods of time that they would previously have regarded as far too long. When they are looking for knowledgeable people to help them comply with the Building Regulations, they will be able to find them — thanks to CIBSE's foresight in developing its register of low-carbon consultants, the scope of which is now being increased to include expertise in the use of building-simulation software. While money may not still be no object in delivering energy efficiency, it will no longer be the barrier it once was.
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