Building Regulation Compliance

All new buildings must comply with the relevant building energy standards part L in UK and Ireland, Part F in Northern Ireland (please follow the links below) This set of standards has been evaluated and improved every few years with the goal of constructing buildings which are as close to carbon zero as possible by 2020. A previous strategy to work towards zero carbon for all new builds by 2016 has proved to be too ambitious.

Government strategy employs a carrot and stick approach to reducing our energy consumption with the ‘stick’ of tightening regulations and the ‘carrot’ of incentives for renewables. As incentives are reduced this leaves ever tighter regulations as the only method to achieve government energy targets. For new builds, extensions and renovations we aim to strike the right balance of compliance, cost effectiveness and future proofing.

SAP Calculations (Domestic)

Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is the government approved methodology for the calculation of building energy rating (BER) to be compared against a notional target energy rating (TER). The U Values of all of the elements which make up the building envelope are calculated along with their relevant areas. The type and efficiency of all heating and lighting systems are considered along with other factors such as air tightness and ventilation.

In order to achieve building control approval a ‘design’ SAP showing compliance must be submitted. Post construction, any changes to the specification must be factored into the ‘as built’ SAP calculation along with the results of the air tightness test. An ‘On Construction’ EPC is produced from ‘As Built’ SAP calculations and is a graphical representation of the same information

SBEM calculations (Commercial)

Simulated Building Energy Model (SBEM) calculations are the commercial equivalent of SAP calculations detailed above. The software is more complex and considers zones with different activities and allows for much more complex M&E installations however the procedure for gaining compliance is the same. ‘Design’ SBEM, air test, ‘As Built’ SBEM, On Construction EPC.

Due to the variety of commercial buildings which the software must accommodate there is a bit more flexibility compared to SAP. These options may have a major impact on budget so its often better to take a second opinion if as a client you are advised that a particular specification is required to comply with building control.

Read our blog post on SBEM calculations, What? Why? When.

How Can We Help

Our Role:

  • Project goals – The first thing we do is try to ascertain what motivates our client and tailor our advice accordingly. Every job is different and the motives of a builder building budget housing and a family who want to extend a family home they intend to occupy for the next 20 years are clearly at opposite ends of the spectrum. The earlier we can become involved in any particular project the better. Even before an architect is appointed we can get a steer for which end of the energy scale you want to be at and how you intend to use the building.
  • Continuity – As we provide the entire package including building testing at the end of the project there are guaranteed to be no unfortunate surprises when the time comes to seek final approval
  • Cost – Being involved at an early stage avoids clients paying twice for the same service as we cover all services in house.

What is Zero Carbon

A zero carbon building is defined as one which causes no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A hut with a fire burning firewood would be classed as zero carbon despite the poor standard of building fabric however should oil fired central heating be installed in the hut it would no longer be zero carbon and would in fact be an extremely inefficient building.

Therefore Zero Carbon or nearly Zero Carbon standards as laid out in government guidelines consider both the building fabric and the energy source. Zero carbon buildings have very well insulated walls, floors roofs, triple glazed windows and an extremely low level of air permeability and therefore require mechanical ventilation. In addition to these high standards of building fabric the small amount of energy which is required must come from a net zero Carbon source or be offset in another way. A building which satisfied the required building fabric and heat loss standards and had oil fired central heating could still be Zero Carbon if it had a wind turbine which created electricity to satisfy the building’s demand and enough surplus electricity to offset the carbon produced by the heating system.