Thinking beyond Part L 2013 Regulations

Colm O’Callaghan, Building Energy Analyst at Kingspan Insulated Panels, summarises some of the best approaches for meeting the new targets for non-domestic buildings, as set out in the new Part L 2013 regulations. At the same time, he touches on some of the more general advice the technical team gives customers when they call.

Changes to Part L have been in place in the UK since early April, and the specific regulations for Wales were introduced this summer.  After a transitional period, where applications made prior to April were assessed under the old 2010 documents, we are now beginning to see how the new regulations are impacting the specification choices being made by the construction industry.  For architects and contractors seeking advice on achieving the new standards, there are a couple of areas we tend to explore with them first.

Envelope first, then internal services

For Approved Document Part L2A 2013 – New Buildings other than Dwellings – the most notable change was for a 9% carbon improvement on the 2010 UK Regulations (and an average of 20% in Wales), across the fabric or the building mix.  A greater emphasis was placed on the quality of construction, thermal bridging and fixed building services.  With the SBEM calculations being based on the Notional Building, the document includes a wider set of notional buildings, with air permeability sub-divided to reflect building size.

We believe the best strategy is to begin by considering the total building envelope, as this addresses air permeability, and is the first place to see significant improvements towards the new targets.  Starting with an airtight building envelope, we go beyond just using SBEM calculations, to conduct a more detailed analysis using our Dynamic Simulation Modelling (DSM) method.  DSM calculations run at ten-minute intervals throughout the year, using real life historical weather data and accurate sun path analysis.  This, coupled with our enhanced construction details and product knowledge, means we can calculate the overall reduction in heat load and demand.  Addressing this first opens up possibilities for downsizing the building’s heating, ventilation and cooling plant, which ultimately translates to capital cost savings, and lower running costs over the life of the building.  For building owners, this means a better return on capital investment that can be demonstrated through discounted cash flows.

Shedding light on energy efficiency

Alongside lower carbon emissions, Part L 2013 is concerned with the conservation of power in buildings to achieve progressive reductions in energy consumption.  With a building’s lighting typically accounting for 75% of ancillary energy demand, it is no surprise that Part L 2013 stipulates a minimum increase of 9% in lighting efficiency.

Manufacturers of building products have recognised the potential cost and energy savings from advancements in lighting technology. One such system is Kingspan ZerO Energy Lighting solution, which combines the latest in polycarbonate rooflights, LED lighting with smart dimming controls and photovoltaic (PV) technology, to deliver zero energy industrial lighting.

For each customer, we can calculate the optimum percentage of roof space to be given over to rooflights for harnessing natural daylight.  This is incorporated with our Kingspan Smart-Lite LEDs, fully integrated sensors and controls, and Kingspan Energy rooftop PV array.  The combined solution dramatically reduces total lighting demand, energy costs and, most importantly, the building’s total energy consumption while attaining Part L 2013 compliance.

The minimum is not enough

At Kingspan, we have a team of people dedicated to providing technical support to help customers both understand and comply with new building standards.  This includes a free Building Energy Modelling service featuring compliance calculations (SBEM) and DSM, an extensive library of enhanced construction details with Psi ψ-value junction analysis, holistic building solutions, BREEAM assistance and guidance on BIM compatibility.

Our technical services team is very happy to answer questions about U-values and the specifications of individual products, but I think we are at our most useful when we help customers take a holistic approach that optimises a building for the long term.

Stricter regulations are expected in the future and, if the UK is to have any chance of reaching its carbon reduction targets by 2020, new regulations must challenge the construction industry in a much more impactful way.  So our best advice is to think beyond the minimum standards set out in the latest regulations and consider something altogether more ambitious.  The right mindset is to future-proof buildings against more demanding standards, and create optimised designs that reduce capital and operational costs over the lifetime of the building.

The rewards are there for building owners who take this progressive approach to design and construction and, with each new round of regulation, our hope is that a greater number of them see this bigger opportunity.

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